The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, who often backed Seger in his studio recordings, sent Seger a demo of the song during the recording of Stranger in Town. He said in 2006 (and also on the “Stranger in Town” episode of the US radio show In the Studio with Redbeard a few years earlier):
All I kept from the original was: “Old time rock and roll, that kind of music just soothes the soul, I reminisce about the days of old with that old time rock and roll“. I rewrote the verses and I never took credit. That was the dumbest thing I ever did. And Tom Jones (Thomas E. Jones) and George Jackson know it too. But I just wanted to finish the record [Stranger in Town]. I rewrote every verse you hear except for the choruses. I didn’t ask for credit. My manager said: “You should ask for a third of the credit.” And I said: “Nah. Nobody’s gonna like it.” I’m not credited on it so I couldn’t control the copyright either. Meanwhile it got into a Hardee’scommercial because I couldn’t control it. Oh my God, it was awful!”
However, George Stephenson of Malaco Records claimed:
“Old Time Rock and Roll” is truly [George] Jackson‘s song, and he has the tapes to prove it, despite Seger’s claims that he altered it. Bob had pretty much finished his recording at Muscle Shoals and he asked them if they had any other songs he could listen to for the future..”
Originally, the Silver Bullet Band was displeased with its inclusion on Stranger in Town, claiming, according to Seger, that the song was not “Silver Bullety”. However, upon hearing audience reactions to it during their tour in Europe, the band grew to like the song.
In 1990, Seger joined Billy Joel on one occasion and Don Henley on another to play the song during their concerts in Auburn Hills, Michigan. He also performed the song at his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.