Aired on Treasure Island Oldies – May 2017
Known for his ability to articulate the aspirations of blue collar America, a young singer/songwriter from Detroit established himself as one of music’s top performers – both on the charts and on tour.
A tribute to his success and longevity was his box office record breaking concert tour of the US in 1996. In fact, Ticketmaster claims that this particular concert sold 100,000 tickets in his hometown of Detroit in less than an hour.
Prior to his college days, he released a record on the Capitol label in late 1968 that went on to become a Top 20 hit. This tune, which is rarely heard today, marked the beginning of his acceptance nationwide …
In the early 60’s in Detroit, a young man kicked off what was to become a long career with a group called the Decibels. He subsequently joined Doug Brown and the Omen as the organist, but soon became the lead vocalist and songwriter when these talents surfaced.
The group made their recording debut as the “Beach Bums” with “The Ballad Of The Yellow Beret”, a parody of the SGT Barry Sadler hit, “The Ballad Of The Green Beret.” The record was soon withdrawn from airplay in the face of a threatening lawsuit.
Another group change took place in the late 60’s and by 1968 he was a regional phenomenon with five top ten singles in the Detroit market … where his records outsold the Beatles.
Since then he has recorded 18 albums spanning nearly 30 years. Ironically, he was greatly influenced by early advice from Freddie “Boom Boom” Cannon who said, “Do your best, ‘cause it’s only gonna last 2 or 3 years”. [Boy was he wrong!]
His initial opportunity to go nationwide came late in 1968 when he and his new group signed with Capitol records. He hit the Billboard charts by storm with one of his first blue collar, nose-to-the-grindstone tunes. This breakout record stayed on the charts for 14 weeks and peaked at the number 17 position in the winter of 1969.
A lost treasure, here’s Mr. “(gimme that) old time rock ‘n’ roll” Bob Seger, performing as the Bob Seger System with his classic “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man,” this week’s Tom Locke moment in time.
YouTube video of this song:
This “Moments In Time” story is yet another example of a “golden oldie” or forgotten favorite that earned its place in the evolution of Rock & Roll.