Dec 30, 2020: Alto Reed, Longtime Sax Player For Seger’s Silver Bullet Band, Dies

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Alto Reed, during Bob Seger’s farewell tour in 2019

Alto Reed, the saxophonist who was a member of Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band for nearly 50 years, died December 30, 2020, at his home. The news of his passing was revealed by Seger on his Facebook page. In his tribute to his longtime bandmate, Seger wrote, “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.” Reed, born Thomas Cartmell, died after battling colon cancer. He was 72.

Reed’s sax introduces Seger’s 1973 recording of “Turn the Page.” He also performs a well known solo on 1978’s “Old Time Rock and Roll.”

“It is with a heavy heart that we inform you of the passing of our lifelong friend and band mate, Alto Reed,” wrote Seger. “Alto passed away this morning at his home with his family by his side after fighting a courageous battle with colon cancer.

“Alto has been a part of our musical family, on and off stage, for nearly 50 years. 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.”

Reed played with the Silver Bullet Band through their final tour, which was completed in 2019.

Seger’s tribute continued: “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. 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.

“Off stage, Alto had a passion for discovering and experiencing new things. He taught me how to sail on Biscayne Bay, we swam with the sharks (unintentionally!), and he often introduced us to local foods and restaurants he had discovered. I called him Captain. He was bolder than I was. I remember visiting him in the Miami area and I found him feeding the manatees in a lagoon behind his house. Most of us feed the seagulls, Alto fed the manatees!”

Watch Reed perform his sax solo on “Old Time Rock and Roll” during Seger’s farewell tour in 2019

Related: Our Album Rewind of Live Bullet

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. Becky in Texas
    #1 Becky in Texas 31 December, 2020, 07:26

    Saw many a Bob Seger show in Houston and Austin. One show in particular, sitting in the upper balcony, a spotlight hits just above our head! Looking behind us, there’s Alto Reed playing a solo bit before disappearing and reappearing back on stage! Seger shows were the best and I’m sorry I missed this last tour!

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  2. Detroit lady
    #2 Detroit lady 1 January, 2021, 09:52

    Saw Seger everytime he came back to Detroit.
    Saw Alto slide down a line from high above us playing the sax opening for Turn the Page. What a rush! Detroit loves Bob Seger and Silver Bullet band. Late 60s and early 70’s best time in Detroit!

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