Seger’s father, a medical technician for the Ford Motor Company, played several instruments and Seger was exposed to music from an early age. Seger was also exposed to frequent arguments between his parents that disturbed the neighborhood at night. In 1956, when Seger was 10 years old, his father abandoned the family and moved to California. The remaining family soon lost their comfortable middle-class status and struggled financially.
Seger attended Tappan Junior High School, (Ann Arbor, Michigan) (now Tappan Middle School) and graduated from Pioneer High School in 1963 (at the time it was known as Ann Arbor High School). He ran track and field in high school. Seger also went to Lincoln Park High School for a year.
As far as his early musical inspirations are concerned, Seger has stated, “Little Richard – he was the first one that really got to me. Little Richard and, of course, Elvis Presley. “Come Go With Me” by The Del-Vikings, a hit in 1957, was the first record he bought.
The Last Heard
Seger decided to record “East Side Story” himself, and officially left the Omens (though he did retain Doug Brown as a producer). As Bob Seger and the Last Heard, Seger released his version of the song with Hideout Records in January 1966, and it became his first big Detroit hit. The single (backed with “East Side Sound”, an instrumental version of “East Side Story”) sold 50,000 copies, mostly in the Detroit area, and led to a contract with Cameo-Parkway Records. Though the name “The Last Heard” originally referred to the collection of Omens and Town Criers who recorded “East Side Story” with Seger, it soon became the name of Seger’s permanent band, which consisted of former Town Crier Pep Perrine on drums, Carl Lagassa on guitar, and Dan Honaker on bass.
Following “East Side Story”, the group released four more singles: the James Brown-inspired holiday single “Sock It to Me Santa”, the Dylan-esque “Persecution Smith”, “Vagrant Winter”, and perhaps the most notable, “Heavy Music”, released in 1967. “Heavy Music”, which sold even more copies than “East Side Story”, had potential to break out nationally when Cameo-Parkway suddenly went out of business. It was actually a top 100 hit in Canada, where it topped out on the national RPM charts at #82; in the US, it just missed the Hot 100, peaking on the “bubbling under” chart at #103. The song would stay in Seger’s live act for many years to come.