Donielle Flynn

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"Old Time Rock & Roll" Bob Seger at Pine Knob on 8-28-1986 (Photo by Ken Settle)

“Old Time Rock & Roll” is one of the few songs that Bob Seger didn’t write… or rather, a song he doesn’t have writing credit on. Bob has done some covers throughout the years. As far as using songwriters for his album songs, though, Bob wasn’t one to take that route. Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock & Roll” is a song with a fantastic story behind it.  The story led him to say, “It was the dumbest thing I ever did.”

Here’s Bob talking about “Old Time Rock & Roll.”  You can hear the words straight from Bob’s mouth:

Origin of “Old Time Rock & Roll”

The song, in its original form, had existed for years before Bob Seger came into the picture.  “Old Time Rock & Roll” was written by George Jackson and Thomas Jones. Both men were affiliated with the famous Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama. The original demo of “Old Time Rock & Roll” featured George Jackson on lead vocals, but the consensus was that George (a bluesman) wasn’t rock & roll enough on the track.

In an interview with Songfacts, David Hood, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section bass player, said next they brought in“a young man named Dennis Gulley… And when we heard his version of it, we thought, Wow, that sounds just like something that Bob Seger would do.”

Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock & Roll”

According to, Bob said in a radio interview back in 2006, that not taking writing credit on “Old Time Rock & Roll was “The dumbest thing I ever did.”  Bob kept Jackson’s chorus.  He rewrote the verses and included a dig at the disco movement (classic Seger move). Seger’s rewrite and recording of “Old Time Rock & Roll” took place in the span of just one day at Muscle Shoals. Bob didn’t see the song as a hit so he passed on the writing credit.

Commercial Use

As a result of Bob Seger’s pass, Bob doesn’t own the publishing rights to the song. George Jackson and Thomas Jones call the shots on when the song is used in movies and commercials.  This can’t be Bob’s favorite thing.  Bob Seger has mostly stayed away from commercial use of his music. The exception is “Like a Rock’s” use in Chevrolet truck commercials for the better part of a decade.  In a HuffPost interview, Bob explains that “Like a Rock” had been requested for the better part of two years before he agreed to its use in the truck commercials. “I was over in a restaurant and an autoworker came up to me and said, “Why don’t you do something for the auto companies?” and walked away. I was sitting there with my manager and somebody else and said, “Okay, I’ll do it now.”

Jackson and Jones are apparently not so choosy. The song has been used many times in commercials and movies.  Bob likes the inclusion in the movie, Risky Business, but The Friskies commercial can’t possibly be a highlight.  The lyrics were changed to fit the commercial and it’s cringe-worthy.  Here’s the spot from 1986:

“Just take the Friskies off the shelf, your cat can eat them all by himself.”  I totally give my cats Friskies, but this commercial hurts.

Bob Seger Photos From Detroit Photographers

Donielle Fynn is a Michigan native with two kids, two dogs, two cats, a love of yoga, and all things classic rock.

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