It was Bob Segerâs cleaning ladies who informed photographer and co-author Tom Weschler that the music legend liked Weschlerâs book Travelinâ Man: On the Road and Behind the Scenes with Bob Seger.
âWe were at this big release party where there were 350 people at a club that held 200,â Weschler said during a recent phone interview. âThere was a line outside the building, and we (Weschler and co-author Gary Graff) were signing autographs.
âI spotted these two ladies in line and they didnât look like the typical Seger fans. For one thing they had sweats on. As they got closer, I noticed their books had a signature on the front and thought, âWho would sign the front like that?ââ
As the women got to the front of line, Weschler recognized the signature as Segerâs, which surprised him since he hadnât even showed the book to the star.
âMostly because it was my story about being with him and the band,â Weschler said. âPlus, he would have just worried about it. He worries about everything.â
So when the ladies finally reached Weschler, he asked them how they got Segerâs signature.
âWe clean for him,â they replied.
âSo then I asked, âHowâd he like the book?â They said, âHe loved it.ââ
First released in 2009, with a soft-cover released in 2010, Travelinâ Man features Weschlerâs photographs and stories about the people and places in the images, a collection Weschler thought one day he would turn into a scrapbook for Seger. The vignettes, while recounting Segerâs rise in the rock world, also offer a rare glimpse into the life of a musician, from touring to recording, in the 1960s and â70s.
Weschler joined Seger in 1969 when a friend called, needing a replacement for a roadie who fell sick. A few months later, his friend got ill and Weschler found himself the road manager.
âBasically, when I got everything set up, I would just shoot,â Weschler said. âMore in the seventies, I was pretty much doing everything by phone, so I had time to take pictures.â
Weschler left the Seger organization in 1974 for other endeavors. Over his career, he has taken numerous pictures of such rock 'n' roll legends as Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Pink Floyd, and Cream. It was his vast collection of photos that lead him to do a gallery show with Detroit radio station 94.7 WCSX in 2002, featuring ninety-four pictures with captions written by Weschler.
Friend, writer, and longtime Seger fan Graff stopped by the show. âI asked Gary what he thought of the show, and he said, âthe pictures were great, but the captions sucked,ââ Weschler said. âGary also said Bob would never tour again; he was wrong about that too.â
Despite the caption comment, Weschler agreed to collaborate with Graff on a book featuring his photographs. âIt was about a month, and basically every time a Seger picture came up, I would stop and tell a story about it,â Weschler said. âGary suddenly said, âHey, weâre really missing the boat on this and should be doing a book on Seger.â The guy has sold 50 million records, and there is not a single book on him besides sheet music.â
Since its release, Travelinâ Man has broken all of Wayne State University Pressâs commercial sales and is the second-highest selling book for the company. âWe are behind some book that was published in 1919 that about every Wayne State student has to buy when they come there,â Weschler said with a laugh. âI think we are about 100,000 behind them.â
The book has a chance to catch up as it will be available with other merchandise during Bob Segerâs current concert tour, which kicks off Saturday, March 26, in Toledo. The tour comes to Saginaw's Dow Event Center Tuesday, March 29, and later in the week, to Grand Rapids' Van Andel Arena Saturday, April 2.
Weschler will be on hand to sign books and talk to Seger fans along with shooting some pictures to document the tour.
âThe band sounds fabulous,â said Weschler, who has been sitting in on rehearsals. âThere is some new material, some old material that has not been recorded, and, of course, the standards. Everybody who goes is going to have a great time.â
Weschler will be with the band until the tour closes in May, with ending dates of May 17 and 19 at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Once the tour is done, Weschler said he might start work on his next project, a book featuring the photographs of the other countless rock ânâ roll legends he has photographed.
And just for the record, about a week after talking to Segerâs cleaning ladies, Weschler was with Segerâs manager, Ed âPunchâ Andrews, when Seger walked into Punchâs office.
âHe told me he loved the book, and even now, he tells me how he still signs three to four copies a week.â
Travelinâ Man: On the Road and Behind the Scenes with Bob Seger can be purchased through any local bookstore, such as Schuler Books & Music, or online through Wayne State University Press atwww.wsupress.wayne.edu