Bob Seger saxophonist Alto Reed dies of cancer at age 72

Alto Reed, the mighty saxophonist who thrilled millions of listeners during his platinum-plus-selling career with Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, died today (Dec. 30) after a lengthy battle with cancer.
“It is with a heavy heart that we inform you of the passing of our lifelong friend and band mate, Alto Reed,” Seger wrote in a news release on Alto passed away this morning at his home with his family by his side after fighting a courageous battle with colon cancer.”
The Detroit native was 72.
Reed (born Thomas Neal Cartmell) will be remembered for crafting some of the greatest sax solos in rock ‘n’ roll history, which became true highlights of such classic rock radio staples as “Old Time Rock and Roll” and, especially, “Turn the Page.”
He began working with Seger’s legendary troupe in the early ’70s and remained a key part of the Silver Bullet Band for the next half century, working on such landmark ’70s and ’80s albums as “Live Bullet,” “Night Moves,” “Stranger In Town,” “Against The Wind,” “Nine Tonight” and “Like a Rock” He played on countless concerts dates with the band, including during Seger’s final tour in 2019.
“Alto has been a part of our musical family, on and off stage, for nearly 50 years,” Seger says in the statement. “I first starting 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.”
Seger had already been playing music professionally for about 10 years by the time he joined forces with Reed, whose passionate saxophone work would quickly help the band reach the next level of popularity.
“We worked with Alto often and when we booked our first headline arena gigs at Cobo Hall (in Detroit), we asked him to be a part of those shows,” Seger says. “No doubt his iconic performance on ‘Turn the Page’ helped lift us to another level.
“He has been with us on that stage virtually every show, ever since. And whether it was ‘Turn The Page,’ ‘Mainstreet,’ or ‘Old Time Rock And Roll,’ audiences roared every time he played his part. In our band, Alto was the rock star.”
 

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