Edward Sarkis Balian
Author, composer, musician, audio engineer, fine art photographer, university professor, and entrepreneur is typically not a list of professional accomplishments associated with one person, but it is for Edward Sarkis Balian, PhD.
Born and raised in Detroit, Balian was a member of the band Andromeda which opened for legendary singer, songwriter, and musician Bob Seger and other bands during Detroit’s rock 'n roll heyday of the 1960's and 1970's. Andromeda also covered Bob Seger songs. While Seger’s storied music career has spanned six decades, Balian diversified his talents over those years, putting him in the ideal position to write the only Bob Seger biography, Turn the Page: The Bob Seger Story, which was published in 2019.
“Bob and I shared the same entertainment attorney, Mike Novak. Mike and I were together when the idea to write the book germinated. Mike said, ‘There’s no Bob Seger autobiography or biography – and you’re the guy that needs to write it.’ As someone who is an author and was in the Detroit music scene, the combination led me to write the book…Mike passed away unexpectedly and didn’t live to see the book published, so the book is dedicated to him.”
The Michigan book launch was held in December 2019 at the Robert Kidd Gallery in Birmingham as a fundraising event for Oakland County Children’s Village in Pontiac, a charity that Seger and his wife have regularly supported.
Since the book’s launch, Balian has appeared at 50 book signing shows, mostly at libraries in Michigan, Florida, and California, with more being scheduled next year. The popular book tour was interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s a 90-minute presentation with a Q&A and book signing. Everyone has a Bob story to tell,” he says. “Bob’s popularity isn’t just limited to Michigan or the Midwest.”
He adds, “The book is an accurate account of Bob’s life, painstaking in research which was particularly challenging because Bob is such an extremely private person. The book is 280 pages with over 60 color images and 224 documented footnotes. It was a team effort with my small staff. It was a fun but challenging undertaking, but I did it for the fans. I was there and survived the Detroit music scene, which had unbelievable talent at that time…I have the perspective without which I couldn’t have written the book.”
Balian titled the book Turn the Page as not only a nod to one of Seger’s most popular songs, but also in reference to his life.
He explains, “’Turn the Page’ encapsulates Bob’s life and career – he was always challenged and had tremendous ups and downs. His life story is a real rock ‘n roll rollercoaster.”
Of course, Seger wasn’t the only one who was regularly “turning the Page” in his career and personal life – Balian did as well.
After years living and working in San Diego, Balian moved back to Michigan three years ago. He is still making and recording music at his home studio in Northville, starting a band called The George-Edwards Group with his childhood friend, Ray George. They have recorded over 200 songs together and their music is available on the Drag City label.
Balian credits his wife, Karen Obsniuk, with “her tremendous support” through his various projects. In their free time, the couple share a love for travel, especially by train, and have several upcoming trips planned.
Balian explains, “I’ve been very blessed with lots of opportunities, and I’ve been fortunate to be able to do the things I love. If I didn’t love it, I didn’t do it.”
Story: Tracy Donohue
Photo: Mackenzie O'Brien