|Alto Reed (1948-2020)|
Alto Reed, who played saxophone for multiplatinum Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band for nearly half a century, died Wednesday of colon cancer.
He was 72, according to Deadline.
Seger posted a note about his “lifelong friend and bandmate” on social media: “He was amazing – he could play just about anything,” he wrote. “In our band, he was the rock star.”
Born Thomas Cartmell in Detroit in 1948, Reed was known for his showmanship onstage and his signature sax riff on “Turn the Page.” He first started playing with Seger in the early 1970s, played on its Back in ’72 albums and joined the band for its first headlining arena shows at Detroit’s Cobo Hall. By 1974, he was a full-fledged member of the Silver Bullet Band, which was about to break nationally with “Live” Bullet (1976), which was recorded at Cobo Hall and featured a scorching version of the Reed-fueled “Turn the Page” that remains a staple on classic rock radio. Metallica covered the song on its 1998 album Garage Inc., with a guitar riff subbing for the sax.
Reed joined Seger and several other longtime bandmates for a 2018-19 farewell tour, during which he played the familiar guitar riff from “Mainstreet” on sax. His horn also helped drive such Seger classics as “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” and the 1978 hit “Old Time Rock and Roll.”
He was part of the band during its 1970s and ’80s heyday, playing on the multiplatinum albums Beautiful Loser, Night Moves, Stranger in Town, Against the Wind — which was No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for six weeks in 1980 — and the 1981 live set Nine Tonight. The single “Against the Wind” won the group it only Grammy, for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group, and also scored a second nom that year.
Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band also racked up seven Top 10 singles, ranging from the 1976 classic “Night Moves” to the group’s lone chart-topper, “Shakedown,” from the 1987 film Beverly Hills Cop II. The title cut from Like a Rock peaked at No. 12 in 1986 but became nearly as familiar as any of the group’s songs as the featured cut in a long-running TV ad campaign for Chevrolet trucks during the 1990s and early 2000s.