Birthplace: Kenosha, WI
You Know Him From: Singer/songwriter and a member of the group Semi-Twang, who recorded “Salty Tears” in 1988.
Did You Know?: Some of the songs John Sieger has written have been recorded by Dwight Yoakam and the BoDeans.
John Sieger was born the fifth child of seven to Al and Martha Sieger in Kenosha. He started out in the music business by performing original and cover material in Kenosha and by playing the Chicago bar band scene.
In 1971, Sieger was the guitarist in the Starboys dance band, which happened to be performing for a high school dance at Tremper High School in Kenosha. That evening Sieger met Michael Feldman (of Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Whad’ya Know?“) for the first time, as well as Feldman’s wife, Marge.
Shortly after this meeting, Sieger and Marge got together, inciting a divorce between Marge and Michael. Despite this rocky start, John and Michael have been able to stay friends.
“After we split, John turned up with her almost the next day,” Feldman said to the Chicago Sun-Times. “It happened to me in junior high and it happened to me there. But we stayed friends. John may be a little guilty about the whole thing, but he shouldn’t have been. It wasn’t his fault. Maybe that made him a little more receptive to some of the lyrics.”
Since that time, the two have grown strong in friendship and have collaborated on a number of songs which include “That White Boy (Isn’t Good for You),” “If My Old Man Were Alive Today This World Would Kill Him Quick” and “Salty Tears.”
Sieger went on to collaborate with Paul Cebar in the R&B Cadets (1980-86) and co-founded the critically acclaimed band Semi- Twang (1986-91). In 1988, “Salty Tears” by Semi-Twang was released with much praise and even landed the band a major label with Warner Brothers.
In the early 1990’s, Sieger headed to Nashville to break into the songwriting scene. It was not easily done, however, and he even had to take a job at Office Depot to support himself.
Nonetheless, it was quite worthwhile to Sieger. He was able to hone his songwriting skills and even had the chance to write songs with other artists such as Robbie Fulks and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
“It’s just a wonderful music community,” Sieger told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It’s just a wonderful support system.”
Since then, artists like Dwight Yoakam, Jerry Harrison, The BoDeans, Robbie Fulks and Flaco Jimenez have recorded songs written by Sieger.
After returning to Wisconsin, he has joined a new band, El Supremo, with guitarist Mike Fredrickson and drummer John Carr, and created a new album, also called “El Supremo.” In 2003, he released another album, “Her Country (The Songs of Michael Feldman),” which is a collection of all new Feldman/ Sieger tunes recorded in Springfield, Miss., with Sieger backed up by rock n’ roll geniuses The Skeletons. In between songwriting, Sieger still takes opportunities to play gigs in Nashville, as well as performing full-time in the Milwaukee area. Sieger lives with his wife, Linsey, and son, Sam, in Milwaukee.
Biography by Katie Doucet