PEORIA — Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band played Anderson Arena, the basketball arena on the campus of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, on May 11, 1977.

I was there, a long-haired, 19-year-old sophomore at the school, among the crowd of 5,000 or so rock-starved students who came to party with the Detroit-based musician whose band was just busting out nationally after a decade of incremental regional success.

I remember virtually none of it.

Not necessarily because of any typical college-age impairment, admitting so would be more personally revealing than I care to be in this public memory. But, there is a dim recollection of standing on a metal folding chair on the gymnasium floor for the entire concert as the music thundered from the rafters like a million bouncing basketballs. But that might be a memory of the Aerosmith show three years earlier in the same venue.

While the details are fuzzy, the concert remains a meaningful part of my personal biography, now 61 years in the making. It might be cliche to refer to the “soundtrack” of your youth, but Seger tunes played often in the brains, on the car radios and on the turntables of people who are still my friends.

Seger, to me, stood apart from my other favorite recording artists of the time. He wasn’t spacey and weird like Bowie. He was from Detroit, not Mars. He wasn’t as overtly rock-god debauched as say the Stones, Led Zep or Steven Tyler. And he wasn’t brainy or literary like Dylan or Springsteen. No trashing hotel room stories. No arrests. No scandals. No rehab revolving doors. No densely incomprehensible lyrics. “Night Moves” and “Main Street” will never be compared to “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”

He was from the Midwest. Like us. Not flashy, but passionate. A solid performer who could entertain and excite without making a spectacle of himself, who could slow it down without getting boring and whose rock riffs have stood the test of time, at least in the hearts of that group of us who heard them for the first time when they were new. The love songs weren’t sappy, the rockers weren’t cliche, the lyrics were simple, but not stupid.

The transition from “Travelin’ Man” into “Beautiful Loser” to this day is referenced among my boyhood friends as being the best segue in rock history, an impressive label until you stop and think about how few there might actually be. We called him “Partyin’ Bob Seger," a designation that likely had more to do with our concept of our college-age selves than any knowledge of the musician’s own favorite pastimes. I can picture the living room of my boyhood home, and where the stereo console sat against the wall when I remember receiving and opening “Night Moves” on a distant Christmas morning.

My friends and I saw Seger a second time in 1977, at Cleveland Stadium’s World Series of Rock event where he played in front of 80,000 fans. Rick Derringer opened. The J. Geils Band performed next followed by Seger, who was not that day’s headliner. That slot belonged to Peter Frampton, whose “Comes Alive” fame was in full roar. We left before Frampton finished. That much I remember.

That was, gulp, sniff, 40 years ago. Forty. The same number of years as ounces in those big cans of beer. A lot of beer. A lot of years. I’ve not seen Bob Seger perform live since that day in Cleveland. He hasn’t played in Peoria since a raucous show in Robertson Arena the same year I saw him twice.

I’ll watch from the 36th row on Tuesday on what is being dubbed as Seger’s Farewell Tour. He’s 73 and white-haired. His voice gave out on his last tour, forcing the cancellation of half of it. He might not be able to hit the high notes anymore, but neither can I.

Music is personal. I understand that completely. I’m not an overly sentimental person (that’s a lie, I’m totally an overly sentimental person), but there’s a decent chance I’ll choke up at some point. I would no more try to convince anyone to love or hate something that I love or hate than I would turn and ask the person behind me in line to please pay for my groceries. I rarely even make recommendations.

My Seger connection is not meant to inform, in any way, how anyone else might or should feel about a rock show with its origins in the 1960s blowing into town and leaving just as fast. Tuesday night will be here soon, and then it will be gone, like all Tuesdays. There are people who hate Seger, a fact I believe has more to do with the enduring patronization of aging Baby Boomers and the overplayed saturation of his hit songs on TV and the radio.

“Like a Rock,” anybody?

A lifelong music fan, I’ve moved on from Classic Rock. I don’t buy it. I don’t Google Play it. I don’t listen to it on the radio. Hey, Alexa, play Grand Funk Railroad, is a sentence I will never say. If you’re thinking, “Hey, I saw you at Three Dog Night just last year in the Civic Center Theater,” you are right. I went with a friend. I liked it.

But to me, Seger is different. Special. Not in an obsessive fan-boy way — I know little about his personal life and I walked away from his music for decades — but in the lasting mark he made on my own biography. He’s like a favorite high school history teacher, an old girlfriend, a memorable record store clerk, a lifelong buddy. Someone or something that effortlessly and subconsciously evokes a warm feeling from the past.

Seger returned to the the road after a long absence and sporadic touring schedule a few years ago. I didn’t bother to search out a ticket or a nearby show. I got a text from a longtime Ohio friend from his seat as he excitedly waited for Seger to hit the stage in Columbus that triggered a long-submerged musical desire.

My sister and brother-in-law saw him on that same tour in Toledo and loved it. The same sister who teamed with my other older sister to torture me with the endless play-and-repeat sonic nightmares of the “Oliver” and “My Fair Lady” movie soundtracks, The Carpenters sleepy pop and Dionne Warwick trying to find her damn way to San Jose.

What, no one likes the Beatles in this house!?

But she loved the Seger show. Loved it! She grew up in the same place I did. Still lives there. Clearly, he got to her, too, and not just with the songs he sang. Can I hardly wait to hear “Turn the Page” in Peoria Tuesday night? Not really, but that’s not my point. To me it’s more about the evocation of something that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

If you can relate to that, then you understand this:

Music and memories are intertwined, like strands of DNA. When they intersect — an occurrence I expect sometime Tuesday night on the floor of the Civic Center somewhere in the 36th row at the moment the song “Travelin’ Man” turns into “Beautiful Loser,” or the backup singers jump in on the last chorus of “Night Moves,” — they can bring a tear.

Scott Hilyard can be reached at 696-3244 or by email at shilyard@pjstar.com. Follow @scotthilyard on Twitter.