Bob Seger Honors Alto Reed After Longtime Saxophonist Dies at 72 of Colon Cancer

Rock Cellar Magazine StaffCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

Saxophonist Alto Reed, esteemed for his decades of work alongside Bob Seger in the Silver Bullet Band, has died at age 72 after a battle with stage four colon cancer.

The unfortunate news made the rounds Wednesday, and prompted a heartfelt and lengthy message of condolence and remembrance from Seger, whose work with Reed predated the formation of the Silver Bullet Band (under his given name, Tommy Cartmell).


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Seger’s message in full:

“It is with a heavy heart that we inform you of the passing of our lifelong friend and band mate, Alto Reed. 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.

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!

Alto started a family and was a fabulous father. He helped raise two talented, beautiful, intelligent young ladies. Over the years, his passion for music, life and new adventures never diminished. We loved him like a brother and will miss forever.”

May Alto Reed rest in peace.


  • David Maceira says:

    It was an honor to see him play with Bob in Portland.

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