Longtime Bob Seger Saxophonist, Alto Reed Dies Aged 72

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Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band’s long-time saxophonist, Alto Reed, has died from colon cancer aged 72. The news was sadly announced by Bob Seger himself in a post on Facebook.

“Alto has been a part of our musical family, on and off stage, for nearly 50 years,” Seger wrote. “I first started playing with Alto in 1971. He was amazing – he could play just about anything…he was funky, could scat and play tenor sax and alto sax at the same time.”

Alto’s two daughters, Chelsea and Victoria also shared a joint statement and it was issued by Seger’s publicist.

“Our hearts are deeply broken by this enormous loss, but also filled with gratitude as we reflect on his legacy and how incredibly lucky we’ve been to get to call such a special guy, dad. He led an extraordinary life, marked by passion, determination, and dreams come true – an action-packed adventure filled top to bottom with love, magic, dear friends, family, and unspeakable joys. The stuff of legends, really.”

Alto frequently joined Seger’s Silver Bullet Band in their early days but became an official member after their first headlining gigs at Detroit’s Cobo Hall. His sax can be heard at the beginning of the classic Turn the Page from the 1973 album Back in ’72 and the career-making 1976 live LP Live Bullet.

Tom Weschler, Seger’s road manager, is credited with inspiring Turn the Page’s iconic riff by telling Alto to “picture a black and white movie, ‘The Man with the Golden Arm’, late at night, rain on the street in the alley, you’re standing beneath a streetlamp, there’s a light mist coming down. What does that sound like? You hear a plaintive wail in the distance. What does that sound like?”

Alto was part of the Silver Bullet Band for 42 years. His sax and occasional flute are heard on albums such as 1976’s Night Moves, 1978’s Stranger in Town, and 1986’s Like a Rock. He was welcomed into the Canadian Blues Hall of Fame in 2012.