A Wizard, A True Star. The title of Todd Rundgren's third solo album seems to summarize one of Rock's most remarkable, if wholly eccentric, artists. After first coming to the fore via his band the Nazz, Rundgren. born June 22, 1948, launched an amazingly prolific career that's found him delving into a dizzying array of musical ventures -- from pop to prog, rock to retro, and practically everything in-between -- while also pioneering the internet and video advances that foreshadowed technologies used today.
Despite a succession of hits -- "Hello It's Me," "We Gotta Get You A Woman," "Can We Still Be Friends?," "Bang the Drum," among them -- and production credits for a diverse array of artists -- Badfinger, Meatloaf, Hall & Oates, XTC and Patti Smith to name a scant few -- Rundgren's eclecticism has also made him a performer that's practically impossible to predict. His last album, Arena, released in 2008, found him working in harder rock realms while venting thoughts on our modern malaise.
"The more music you write, the more likely you are to repeat
yourself and that's the actuality for most artists," Rundgren told me when I
interviewed him three years ago around the time of Arena's release. "That's not a bad thing, because for many
artists, that's the foundation of their career. Nobody expects Barry Manilow to
reinvent himself ever, and for people who come to see him, their expectation is
just a guy who's going to sing 'Without You' night after night after night
after night after night without shooting himself in the head."
Thankfully, there's little possibility Todd will ever shoot
himself in the head, unless of course he figures it will enhance his act. I
once watched him perform with Ringo Starr and the All Starr Band, when, purely
for effect, he poured a bottle of peroxide on his hair, presumably to maintain
those bleached streaks that were always such a predominant part of his
"I didn't approach music as a performer," Rundgren
reflected. "That's what a lot of other people do, and therefore they figure out
afterwards what kind of music they want to make. Before I ever thought about
performance, I was just way into music and what could be conveyed through the
meaning of music, and often never considered what you have to do to be a
performer of music. Dancing is as important as singing, so I kind of came to
the performance afterwards. I guess that was the challenge of my career,
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because it didn't come naturally to me - that sort of exhibitionism that comes
Thankfully then, that at age 63, Todd Rundgren remains a
whiz of a wizard and a true star indeed