Progressive rock, Internet innovator Todd Rundgren at Crystal Bay Friday
“A Wizard, A True Star.” The title of Todd Rundgren’s 1973 solo album aptly sums up the contributions of this multi-faceted artist to state-of-the-art music. As a songwriter, video pioneer, producer, recording artist, computer software developer, conceptualist, and most recently interactive artist (re-designated TR-i), Rundgren has made a lasting impact on both the form and content of popular music.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Rundgren began playing guitar as a teenager, going on to found and front The Nazz, the quintessential 1960s cult group. In 1969, he left the band to pursue a solo career, recording his debut, “Runt.” But it was 1972’s seminal “Something/Anything?,” on which he played all the instruments, sang all the vocal parts, and acted as his own producer, that catapulted Rudgren into the superstar limelight, prompting the press to unanimously dub him “Rock’s New Wunderkind.” It was followed by such landmark LPs as “The Hermit of Mink Hollow” and “A Wizard, A True Star,” as well as such hit singles as “I Saw The Light,” “Hello It’s Me,” “Can We Still Be Friends,” and “Bang The Drum.”
In 1974, Rudgren formed Utopia, an entirely new approach to the concept of interactive musicianship, and embarked on an extensive round of touring and recording. “Standout Utopia” offerings included “Oops! Wrong Planet,” “Adventures in Utopia,” and “Oblivion.” Along the way, Utopia combined technical virtuosity and creative passion to create music that, for millions, defined the term “progressive rock.”
Rundgren’s myriad production projects include albums by Patti Smith, Cheap Trick, Psychedelic Furs, Meatloaf, XTC, Grand Funk Railroad and Hall And Oates. Rundgren composed all the music and lyrics for Joe Papp’s 1989 Off-Broadway production of “Joe Orton’s Up Against It” (the screenplay commissioned by The Beatles for what was meant to have been their third motion picture). He also has composed the music for a number of television series, including “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” and “Crime Story.”
His first studio CD of all new music in more than 10 years, “Liars,” was released in 2004.
In 1998 Rundgren debuted his new PatroNet technology which for the first time allows fans of a musical artist to subscribe directly to the artist’s musical output via the Internet.