He first appeared on the local Detroit scene in 1961 fronting a three-piece band called the Decibels. After they disbanded, Seger joined the four-piece Town Criers, a four-piece band who gained a steady following covered songs like "Louie Louie".
Seger soon left to join R&B group Doug Brown & the Omens. While Brown was the primary lead vocalist for the group, Seger would take the lead on some R&B covers. It was with this group that Seger first appeared on an officially released recording, the single "TGIF" backed with "First Girl". Around this time, Seger met his longtime manager Edward "Punch" Andrews, and began writing and producing for other acts that Andrews was managing, such as the Mama Cats and the Mushrooms (with future Eagle Glenn Frey). Andrews and his business partner Leone approached Seger and Brown to write a song for The Underdogs, another local band who recently had a hit with a song called "Man in the Glass". Seger contributed a song called "East Side Story", which ultimately proved to be a failure for The Underdogs.
Seger decided to record "East Side Story" himself, and officially left the Omens (though he did retain Doug Brown as a producer). As Bob Seger and the Last Heard, Seger released his version of the song with Hideout Records in January 1966, and it became his first big Detroit hit. The single (backed with "East Side Sound", an instrumental version of "East Side Story") sold 50,000 copies, mostly in the Detroit area, and led to a contract with Cameo-Parkway Records. Though the name "The Last Heard" originally referred to the collection of Omens and Town Criers who recorded "East Side Story" with Seger, it soon became the name of Seger's permanent band, which consisted of former Town Crier Pep Perrine on drums, Carl Lagassa on guitar, and Dan Honaker on bass. Following "East Side Story," the group released four more singles: the James Brown-inspired holiday single "Sock It To Me Santa", the Bob Dylan-esque "Persecution Smith", "Vagrant Winter", and perhaps the most notable, "Heavy Music", released in 1967. "Heavy Music", which sold even more copies than "East Side Story", had potential to break out nationally when Cameo-Parkway suddenly went out of business.
Seger and Andrews began searching for a new label. In the spring of 1968, Bob Seger & the Last Heard signed with Capitol Records, turning down Motown, who offered more money, as Seger felt that Capitol was more appropriate for his style of music. Capitol subsequently changed the name of the band to The Bob Seger System, a name which they would use until 1970 when Seger began a solo career.
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