Bob Seger Mourns Death of Longtime Saxophonist ‘Rock Star’ Alto Reed

Alto Reed Performing with Bob Seger (Photo Credit: Teresa “Tess” McClendon)

Alto Reed, Bob Seger’s longtime saxophone player in the Silver Bullet Band, passed away Wednesday (December 30) at age 72 after battling stage four colon cancer.

Alto has been a part of our musical family, on and off stage, for nearly 50 years,” said Seger in a statement issued Wednesday. ” 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.”

In his tribute, Seger said that in the band, “Alto was the rock star.”

Reed-with his ponytail and rock star shades-played on Seger’s most iconic classics, including “Old Time Rock and Roll” and “Turn the Page.” His cool presence on stage was a mainstay of the Silver Bullet Band, and vital in live performance.

“We worked with Alto often and when we booked our first headline arena gigs at Cobo Hall, we asked him to be a part of those shows,” Seger said. “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 a family statement released along with Seger’s said Reed died “under the light of the full moon and surrounded by family at our home.” 

“We are truly comforted in knowing that his spirit will shine brightly on through the music that he has left behind, and the impression that he’s had on so many souls in concert,” his daughters said in the statement. 

Alto Reed Performs at the PNC Bank Arts Center: Photo Laura Maimone