A wizard, a true star – Todd Rundgren can do it all. He’s a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, in-demand producer, engineer, audiophile, technophile – all to critical acclaim. Rundgren’s influence can be felt in many pockets of rock & roll: power pop (“Couldn’t I Just Tell You”), lo-fi (A Wizard, a True Star), music video production (“Time Heals”), overdubbing (A Cappella), and experimental music (No World Order). Where most artists strive to build one audience, Rundgren has built several devoted fanbases around the world.
A Philadelphia native, Rundgren was influenced by the sound of soul, British rock, vocal harmony, and 1960s singer-songwriters. In 1967, he formed power pop group Nazz and honed his chops as a songwriter, but his curiosity led to more. He joined Albert Grossman’s Bearsville Records as a producer and engineer, a decision that quickly paid off. Rundgren earned his first top 20 hit with “We Gotta Get You a Woman” as part of his debut solo effort Runt (1970). His ambitious 1972 double album Something/Anything? thrust him in the spotlight with iconic hits like “I Saw the Light” and “Hello It’s Me.” Always prolific, in the 1970s and 1980s he released 12 solo albums, nine albums with his progressive rock outfit Utopia, and produced groundbreaking albums for the Patti Smith Group (Wave), Meat Loaf (Bat Out of Hell), Grand Funk Railroad (We’re an American Band), and the New York Dolls (New York Dolls). At each turn, his sound evolved: “I never felt pressure that I had to come back and top what I might’ve done before.”
We can hear Todd Rundgren’s influence in everyone from Prince and Daryl Hall and John Oates to Björk and Daft Punk. In 2017, Rundgren released White Knight, which includes collaborations with Trent Reznor and Robyn – further demonstrating the wide-reaching impact of one of rock & roll’s truest renaissance men.
“Open My Eyes,” Nazz (1968) • “We Gotta Get You a Woman,” Runt (1970) • “Hello It’s Me,” “I Saw the Light,” Something/Anything? (1972) • “Just One Victory,” A Wizard/A True Star (1973) • “A Dream Goes on Forever,” Todd (1974) • “Love Is the Answer,” Oops! Wrong Planet (1977) • “Can We Still Be Friends,” Hermit of Mink Hollow (1978) • “Bang the Drum All Day,” The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect (1983) • “Time Heals,” The Healing (1983) • “Something to Fall Back On,” A Cappella (1985) • White Knight (2017)
Influences: The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Laura Nyro
Legacies: Prince, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Tame Impala
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