Origin: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Todd Rundgren has always been a rebel. Outside the mainstream, until his music hit the mainstream. Here’s proof. During high school, Rundgren notably ran an underground newspaper that mocked his teachers and was constantly suspended for having long hair.
After graduation, he moved to Philadelphia and began his career in Woody’s Truck Stop, a blues rock group in the style of Paul Butterfield Blues Band. However, Rundgren and bassist Carson Van Osten left prior to Woody’s Truck Stop releasing its eponymous first album to form the garage rock group Nazz in 1967. The group gained minor recognition with the Rundgren-penned songs “Open My Eyes” and “Hello It’s Me”. He later recorded a solo, uptempo version of “Hello It’s Me” which became one of his signature songs.
Recently interviewed in the Huffington Post, Todd said, “my interests in music have always been eclectic, in part because of my upbringing. My parents had pretty solid and varied preferences and my dad hated contemporary pop, so I was exposed to a lot of classical and musical theater and even folk music. From my teen years on, The Beatles evolution through various styles and genres became a model for me. I learned to appreciate song qualities that transcended the way the song was performed, which served me well when I became a producer.”
By 1969 the Nazz had released two albums and Todd left due to sonic dissatisfaction. He was determined to educate himself in audio engineering and production and relocated to New York, signed with Albert Grossman and began working as a producer for other groups, as well as recording his own material. Subsequently, he became one of the first artists signed to Grossman’s Bearsville Records label (distributed through Warner Bros. Records).
Rundgren’s distinctive style was inspired by a wide variety of musical influences—British pop-rock & baroque pop (notably Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Who, The Yardbirds, Cream and The Move), the intricate vocal harmonies of The Beach Boys, classic American rock and roll, Broadway musicals, the operettas of Gilbert & Sullivan and American soul and R&B, but as his music evolved he demonstrated an increasing interest in other genres as well, such as hard rock.
Todd’s circle of musicians began to solidify under the name Todd Rundgren’s Utopia between 1973 and 1975. By 1976 they shortened the name to Utopia and continued to issue a total of ten progressive rock studio albums and disbanded in 1986 (with occasional reunions since.)
During the 70’s and forward, Todd has released 21 studio albums and 21 singles in his solo career.
Rundgren, Roger Powell (keyboards) and Kasim Sulton (bass) were reunited on stage during the debut live presentation of Rundgren’s A Wizard, a True Star presented by RundgrenRadio.com in 2009. In subsequent shows on the tour, Ralph Schuckett replaced Powell, continuing the trend of former Utopia members to remain connected musically.
Asked if he had any advice for new artists and singers, Todd replied, “Same old thing: Get a day job. I was fortunate to get into production and that afforded me great freedom as an artist, as well as a handsome living. The collapse of the old company model and the affordability of technology have combined to deprive me of a lot of production work, so I spend that much more time on the road. Be prepared to play anywhere, anytime for whatever you can get out of it.”
Todd Rundgren’s Utopia (1974)
Disco Jets (1976)
Oops! Wrong Planet (1977)
Adventures in Utopia (1979)
Deface The Music (1980)
Swing to the Right (1982)
Runt. The Ballad of Todd Rundgren (1971)
A Wizard, A True Star (1973)
Hermit of Mink Hollow (1978)
The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect (1982)
A Cappella (1985)
Nearly Human (1989)
2nd Wind (1991)
No World Order (1993)
The Individualist (1995)
Up Against It (1997)
With A Twist…(1997)
One Long Year (2000)
Todd Rundgren’s Johnson (2011)
White Knight (2017)