December 24, 1979 12:00 PM

To call Earl Klugh the George Benson of acoustic guitar does both men justice. Klugh, 26, broke into the pop mainstream this year with his irresistibly melodic fifth LP, Heart String, while his collaboration with keyboardist Bob James, One on One, has topped the jazz charts. A former sessions player with Benson and Chick Corea, Klugh will set his remarkably fluid phrasings to both Nashville and electronic sounds on his next LP. Meanwhile the Detroit bachelor can hear himself weeknights: He composed the theme for Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow show. “I never thought I’d have this impact,” Earl admits. “But I don’t have to worry about an individual style. No one else is doing it the way I do.”

Johnny Cash’s boy named Sue is about to be unseated by a girl named Charly. Actually, she was born Charlotte in Memphis, but after breaking in singing backup in her brother’s band at age 9, Charly McClain, 23, is Nashville’s newest (and most stunning) princess-in-waiting. Her Let Me Be Your Baby was a 1978 hit, and her forthcoming single, Men, could be her breakthrough. “I want to appeal to both men and women zero to 100 years of age,” Charly proclaims. “I don’t want to turn anyone off.”

She found Paradise by the Dashboard Light as Meat Loaf’s sizzling backup singer, but Ellen Foley has a future rocking solo. Her Nightout debut went platinum—in Holland (100,000)—and made headway here, establishing Foley among the growing ranks of New Wave women. Single and 26, Foley left her Catholic school in St. Louis to star in the National Lampoon road show, NBC’s 1977 3 Girls 3 miniseries and Hollywood’s Hair. Rock, she says, “is physical and sexual, but it’s not exploitation—it’s exaggeration.”

With two previous LPs that sold 6.5 million, Bob Seger faces the artistic dilemma of a follow-up the world will judge, he cracks, as “my What-Now album. I mean, it can’t be Son of Night Moves.” So when Seger, 34, felt “the rock just wasn’t up there,” he recut some tracks and missed a Christmas deadline. He thus delayed one of the most-awaited encores of 1979 until at least February. “I want to do something good,” he explains. “You gotta live with these cuts the rest of your life.” He instead holed up on the farm outside Detroit he shares with his lady of eight years, Jan Dinsdale. For the first time Seger wrote all 10 songs on his new LP and, he says, is “moving in a totally different direction. I got some rockabilly, some blues, one waltzy thing in 6-8 time. I’m absolutely heading toward the Spartan New Wave.” What about disco? “That’s gonna fade.” What about Seger? Is he too old to rock? “I take heart watching Larry Csonka,” says rock’s leading football freak. “He’s getting on too.”

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