Updated January 1, 2006 

The Seger File


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Ken Settle Annex/Intro

Ken Settle writes:

I've been a big Bob Seger fan since age seven when I first heard "Heavy Music" in August of '67. Somehow the thundering, primal scream of that Seger classic, coupled with the danger and uncertainty that permeated the Detroit air in the wake of the 1967 Detroit riots, made a big impact on me. The music seemed the perfect score to that violent summer, the lyrics an invitation to rock'n'roll bliss.

By 1971, I wanted to start a Seger fan club and asked his organ player, Skip Van Winkle, if it was O.K. "Well, yeah," he said in his sleepy Tulsa drawl, "But call Bob and get his approval, here's his phone number"!! Well, Seger's reply came as a surprise. "No," he said. "I don't like adulation because I play music. It's just a job. And I don't like the term, 'rock star.' I'd rather be considered a rock'n'roll asteroid."

For the next couple of years, I'd call Bob and chat. He was generally far more patient than I'd be! I'd ask all the typical 12-year-old's questions: "Hey Bob, what's the chords to 'Lucifer'"? "How'd you get that guitar sound on 'Evil Edna'"? However, he also shared casual conversation about his "Big thirteen pound cat" named Noah and his black German Shepherd, Roberta.

Around this time my Mom became very ill with asthma and had to be hospitalized. This was a very scary time. Every morning I would play her Seger's "Brand New Morning." This became our song of renewal. Some of my most cherished childhood memories are Mom and I listening and singing along to the Brand New Morning album. Seger's music imparted the hopefulness that we desperately needed and was paramount to getting through a very rough time.

By 1977, my senior year in high school, Bob was an international star. I'd been photographing every Seger concert that I attended since 1971, and for a class project, I assembled a Seger slide show and history, complete with music and dubbed in radio interviews. It went over so well that several other teachers asked me to share it with their classes too. I'm convinced that my not-so-impressive grades were bumped up a bit on the strength of that presentation! More importantly however, was that it pointed me toward what is now a life long career as a professional music photographer. In fact, seeing Scott Sparling's shot on that back of the Seger Seven LP, and hearing Seger talking about the photo in a 1974 radio interview, was a huge inspiration that also led me to a career as a music photographer. Today, more than 150 of my photos are part of The Hard Rock Cafe's international collection. I was especially honored when the Detroit radio station, WCSX auctioned a pair of my autographed Seger photos to benefit the Children's Leukemia Fund.

I think the biggest lesson that I got from Seger is his unflagging sense of self and commitment. To see him stubbornly shunning fads and music business nonsense to succeed on his own terms was inspiring and steeled me against all kinds of peer group pitfalls. It continues to serve me well with many career challenges.

Bob's music has truly been the soundtrack of my life. Whether it's the isolation and determination of "Turn The Page," the discovery and longing in "Night Moves," the father whispering words of devotion to his newborn in "Golden Boy," or the middle-aged man who exclaims, "I see myself again" in "Like A Rock," Seger's poetic wisdom has served as a map to the searching of my own soul. 

Congratulations Bob, on being the embodiment of a true Hall Of Famer as an artist, and perhaps more importantly as a person.

Ken Settle

Career Bio

Ken Settle is a Detroit-area photographer who has specialized in music photography for three decades. His photos have been published worldwide in magazines such as Guitar Player, Rolling Stone, the original Creem Magazine, People, Playboy, Guitar World, Japan's Player, France's Guitarist, and England's Kerrang!, as well as major newspapers like The Atlantic Journal-Constitution, The Boston Globe and Detroit's News and Free Press.

Numerous album and book projects have featured Ken's work, including Alligator Records 20th Anniversary CD, Grand Funk's live album, Bosnia, Tom Wheeler's book, The Stratocaster Chronicles and Martin Scorcese's companion book to the groundbreaking PBS documentary, The Blues. Ken's work has appeared widely in television production as well. VH1 has used his photos extensively in such shows as Behind the Music and Driven. Ken's performance stills were used for Tom Petty's television advertising for the Into the Great Wide Open album, as well as Bob Seger's video for his classic "Turn the Page." His photos have even appeared in the early 90's as set decoration for the television sitcom, Roseanne!

The Hard Rock Cafe has acquired 153 of his exhibition prints for its International collection and several of his images were exhibited in People Magazine's traveling exhibition, "Through the Years With People." Twenty of Ken's photos were chosen for inclusion in the Kodak Rock Photography Collection, touted as a a collection of "500 of the greatest rock photos of the past 50 years."

A limited edition of 100 of one of Ken's more renowned Stevie Ray Vaughan prints was purchased by the Fender Musical Instrument Company, which has included one print in each of their 100 Stevie Ray Vaughan Tribute Series Stratocaster guitar packages, a prestigious, handmade reproduction of the legendary guitarist's favorite instrument.

Contact Ken at KenSettlePhotos@yahoo.com