Yeah, without a doubt it seems every few years or so those whacky Clarkstonfolk like to bring up the name (reverently, I might add): Robert Clark Seger.
Yes, that Robert Seger, better known as Bob Seger — Rock N Roll Hall of Fame singer/song writer. I would venture to say, if Clarkston were England, they would have dubbed him Sir Bob by now. Alas, it is just a little ‘burb 40 miles north of Detroit, so they still just call him “Bob.”
One reason of his popularity (aside from his rock and roll soulfulness), were his twenty-ish concerts at Clarkston’s Pine Knob ampitheater, the first being on July 27, 1977 with the vaunted Silver Bullet Band.
Another reason, over the years Mr. Seger had owned a number of properties around town and people actually saw him (aside from being on stage).
What I really think drives these Clarkston peeps to bring him up in conversation (especially on Facebook), however, was a promotional photo taken in front of The Clarkston News building in 1977 or 1978. As everybody’s favorite White guy, life-long Clarkston area resident and former Clarkston Schools guy George S. White posted recently, “(That picture was) Taken as a possible album cover for his Stranger in Town album . . .”
Unfortunately, the musical bigwigs on west chose the Los Angeles skyline for the album cover instead of Clarkston. Dangblabit!
I went to BobSeger.com and found this about the LA cover shot. “The album cover was shot on the lawn of the house Seger rented while recording the album in L.A. The rented house was in the Hollywood Hills and helped provide the inspiration for Hollywood Nights.”
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In 2004, for The Clarkston News’ 75th Anniversary edition, then editor Jenny Matteson, now a resident of the ever-growing gravel capitol of the world, Oxford, wrote, “… While chatting about other 75th stories I was researching, (Laura) Glasel mentioned she had a friend with a copy of the famous picture.”
That person was (and is) Jerry Darling who moved to the ghettos of Clarkston (aka: Independence Township) in 1959. Matteson continued, “For the first time, I was able to catch a glimpse of the famous picture. The dark image shows Clarkston’s Main St. in the wee morning hours — not a car in the scene. Bob Seger leans casually against a street sign directly in front of The Clarkston News office. He is merely a small part of the picture as Main St. and the twinkling street lights and stars dominate the landscape.
“Darling explained he got the picture when a close friend Ron Waldriff passed away …”
Darling’s friend was a rock ‘n roll memorabilia collector.
“He had 2,000 to 3,000 albums,” Darling told Matteson. “I’m not kidding. His whole living room was full. It was just great..”
Darling gave the eulogy at Waldriff’s funeral. Waldriff’s daughter Bridgett gave the locally famous picture of Bob Seger to Darling as a present.
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I hopped on The Google Express and looked up the album. Zoinks, it was a great one! Wikipedia reports Stranger In Town went platinum less than a month after it was released on May 5, 1978. It has nine tracks (seven of which Seger wrote) some stand the test of time and are still classics. Hollywood Nights, Still The Same, Old Time Rock and Roll, Feel Like A Number and We’ve Got Tonight are the stand out cuts.
Somewhere on-line I learned the album went platinum six times. I found out on one track (Till it Shines), the late Glenn Frey (of Eagles fame and also a Michigan native) had a guitar solo. I also learned Seger has a new song, called Glenn’s Song on his latest album as a tribute to his good friend.
His first concert at Pine Knob was July 27, 1977. His last was June 21, 1996. When it was announced he was returning to Pine Knob (reluctantly now called DTE), the concert had already been sold out four days earlier.
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Which brings me to this:
Somebody who is reading now, knows how to get a message to Mr. Seger. I say, let us re-create that 1977 or 1978 photo outside The Clarkston News building. Get a message to me.
Bob, I can keep a secret. You come to town in the middle of the lonely Clarkston night, have your people take their pictures (which you can totally use to promote this year’s tour), I take some shots just a little bit different. We shake hands. You go your way, I go mine and the world (or at least Clarkston) is a betterer place.
Come on, Bob. Let’s do this!
E-mail me, DontRushDon@gmail.com