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Revisiting Bob Seger’s Only No. 1 Hit, ‘Shakedown’

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It took two decades, Eddie Murphy and a five-year break from the Top 10 for Bob Seger to score his first, and only, No. 1 hit. On top of all that, after recording for the same company for 20 years, that hit single was on a different label – a one-off song cut for a soundtrack album.

But the Beverly Hills Cop franchise was no ordinary ’80s product. It was product, no mistake, but the movies featured Murphy, the hottest comedy star of the decade. The first film in the series, 1984’s Beverly Hills Cop, was a smash, and its soundtrack album reached No. 1. The 1987 follow-up promised more of the same – but bigger.

Glenn Frey had a No. 2 hit with “The Heat Is On” from the first movie. But Bob Seger, who hadn’t had a Top 10 song since “Shame on the Moon” climbed to No. 2 in 1982, did him one better with “Shakedown.” (Reportedly, Frey was supposed to sing the follow-up too, but in a turn of events, Seger ended up with the song.) Remarkably, it was Seger’s only chart-topper after nearly three dozen charting singles.

“Shakedown” was written by Bob Seger, Harold Faltermeyer (who hit No. 3 with the instrumental “Axel F” from the first movie) and Keith Forsey, who produced the song (as well as other tracks on the Beverly Hills Cop II soundtrack). And it sounded nothing like the meat-and-potatoes heartland rock that Seger’s fans were used to. In fact, with its heavy use of synthesizers and dance beat that aims for both the Top 40 and club floors, the song is one of the worst of Seger’s long career.

But he needed the boost. After breaking out with Night Moves in 1976, Seger was on a roll, logging six Top 10 songs in six years, plus a No. 1 album. In the mid ’80s, with MTV dominating the charts, Bob Seger’s brand of gutsy rock ‘n’ roll – splashed with some old-school R&B and even a bit of Detroit-style garage rock – was falling out of favor with mainstream fans. Seger’s two singles preceding “Shakedown” didn’t even reach the Top 50.

So, “Shakedown” was the temporary shot in the arm that Seger needed. But it was temporary. After staying at the top of the chart for one week in August 1987, the song slowly slipped from the upper reaches of the Top 40 – and so did Bob Seger. In the 26 years since it reached No. 1, Seger has had only one other charting single, 1991’s “The Real Love,” which stalled at No. 24.

For one week in 1987, though, he was on top of the world, thanks to a summer blockbuster, Eddie Murphy and a song the MTV generation could identify with.

See Bob Seger and Other Rockers in the Top 100 Albums of the ’70s

Next: Top 10 Bob Seger Songs

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