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"It is with a heavy heart that we inform you of the passing of our lifelong friend and bandmate," Bob Seger announced Wednesday

By Claudia Harmata
December 30, 2020 02:55 PM
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Alto Reed
Alto Reed
| Credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Corbis via Getty

Alto Reed, an original member of Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band, died Wednesday morning of colon cancer. He was 72.

Seger, 75, announced the news in an emotional statement on Twitter, paying tribute to the saxophonist and his longtime friend.

"It is with a heavy heart that we inform you of the passing of our lifelong friend and bandmate, Alto Reed. Alto passed away this morning at his home with his family by his side after fighting a courageous battle with colon cancer," the singer said.

"Alto has been a part of our musical family, on and off stage, for nearly 50 years," Seger continued. "I first started 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."

The "Turn the Page" singer went on to recall how often he would work with Reed, who was there for the milestone moment when Seger booked his "first headline arena gig at Cabo 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," Seger said. "He has been with us on stage virtually every show ever since... audiences roared every time he played his part. In our band, Alto was the rock star."

Alto Reed
Alto Reed
| Credit: Gustavo Caballero/WireImage

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Reed (né Thomas Cartmell) was born in Detroit and toured with Seger and his band through 2019. His sax lines were some of the most well known and applauded parts of Seger's music.

Aside from his musical career, Seger said that Reed "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," Seger said. "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 seagulls, Alto fed the manatees!"

Alto Reed
Alto Reed
| Credit: Ross Marino/Getty

"Alto started a family and was a fabulous father," he added. "He helped raise two talented, beautiful, intelligent young ladies... We loved him like a brother and will miss him forever."

Reed's two daughters, Chelsea Reed Radler and Victoria Reed, both mourned their father in a statement to USA Today.

"Our hearts are deeply broken by this enormous loss, but also filled with gratitude as we reflect on his legacy and how incredibly lucky we've been to get to call such a special guy dad," they said.