Personalities | Todd Rundgren | From Eclectic to Iconic | Guitar Heroes

Perhaps no other artist has forged so eclectic a career as guitarist-singer-songwriter-producer-technologist-experimenter Todd Rundgren (b. 1948).

In his 40 years on the rock scene, Rundgren has pursued interests ranging from pop songcraft to experimental composition with his band Utopia, and from innovative record production to nostalgic reinvention tours with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band and The New Cars.

Rundgren’s guitar playing took a backseat to his far-reaching production concepts while shining brightly within its designated assignment. The harmonized slide solos on the hit ‘I Saw The Light’ and his playing on extended-instrumental albums like 1974’s Todd and the same-year debut Todd Rundgren’s Utopia define guitar as a support instrument, as did his sound-for-sound remake of The Beach Boys’ ‘Good Vibrations’.

Rundgren began playing guitar as a child in Philadelphia and was influenced in his teens by Motown and the British invasion. He played in bar bands, culminating in Woody’s Truck Stop, a blues band. In 1967, he left the group to form The Nazz, which landed a record deal in 1968. The debut album’s first single was a slow version of Rundgren’s later hit, ‘Hello, It’s Me’. He left to record as Runt, which served as a front for his expanding solo producing and performing skills. The first album generated a buzz in 1971 with the Top 40 hit ‘We Gotta Get You A Woman’. At the same time, Rundgren became an in-demand producer, helming The Band’s Stage Fright and Badfinger’s Straight Up. Rundgren’s Something/Anything? (1972) became a smash due to the Carole King tribute, ‘I Saw The Light’, and the reworked ‘Hello, It’s Me’. But Rundgren, proclaiming his disinterest in being a pop star, followed up in 1973 with A Wizard, A True Star, a sonic collage of genres that turned off his mainstream audience and cemented his cult following. In the years that followed, Rundgren expanded his production skills into computer-based, commercial video operations while occasionally touring with performers including Ringo Starr.

In 2009, he produced a theatrical concert version of A Wizard, A True Star, with costumes and props to accent the songs. Rundgren has also continued to regularly release solo albums, the latest of which, State, was released in 2013.

Essential Recordings

Solo: Something/Anything?

Solo: A Wizard, A True Star

Solo: Todd

Utopia: Adventures In Utopia

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