b. Todd Harry Rundgren, 22nd June 1948, Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Todd Rundgren’s songwriting skills have been hugely popular over the years, with R&B and Blue-Eyed artists.
Artists such as Mary J. Blige, Keni Burke, The Isley Brothers, Yvonne Elliman, Cory Braverman, The Four Tops, Rumer, Daryl Hall, England Dan & John Ford Coley, David Grant & Jaki Graham, Lani Hall, The Manhattan Transfer, Robin Beck, Robert Palmer, Marlon McClain, Johnny Mathis, Workshy, Esperanto, Groove Theory, Claire Martin, Ken Navarro, Daft Punk, Erykah Badu and Leroy Burgess.
mary j. blige - hello it's me - 2007
In return, Todd has, at times, returned the compliment, by recording his own versions of melodies recorded by classic Soul singer songwriters.
todd rundgren - i'm so proud/ ooh baby, baby, la la means i love you - 1973
Whilst Todd certainly has a Soul side, he is not afraid to upset the artistic apple cart, becoming discontented with ‘the comfortable’, therefore, for every ‘I Saw The Light’ or ‘Hello It’s Me’, these styles are juxtaposed by the ‘Bat Out Of Hell’s’ and ‘Black Maria’s’ in his Rockier back catalogue.
For Soul fans, navigating this singer songwriters career is a hugely interesting and enjoyable obstacle course!
Todd is not only an expert singer & songwriter, he is an accomplished producer and multi-instrumentalist.
Todd Harry Rundgren was born in 1948 in Pennsylvania.
His father was of Swedish and Austrian descent.
His early career began with the group Woody's Truck Stop, however, he had left the group by 1967, forming the group Nazz.
Signed to the SGC imprint, Nazz recorded three albums, the debut set containing an early version of Todd’s evergreen tune ‘Hello It’s Me’.
runt - 1970 / runt: the ballad of todd rundgren - 1971 / something/anything - 1972 / a wizard a true star - 1973
He remained with the group until 1971, however, Todd had begun crafting a solo career, which was realised by a debut solo set entitled ‘Runt’.
the four tops - hey man/we gotta get you a woman - 1972
'Runt’ featured the ballad ‘Believe In Me’ and the uptempo ‘We Gotta Get You A Woman’ (a U.S. Top 20 hit), which the Four Tops were later to record.
This album was recorded for the Ampex Records imprint, after which Todd found a home at the, Albert Grossman owned, Bearsville label.
todd rundgren - wailing wall - 1971
In 1971, he recorded the album ‘Runt, The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren’, which featured ‘Wailing Wall’ and another Soul favourite ‘Be Nice To Me’ (recorded by the artist Rumer).
This album was described by Rolling Stone magazine as, ‘the best album Paul McCartney never made’.
By 1972, he had decided to record a double album, performing every instrument himself, resulting in the epic ’Something/Anything’.
This album is considered by some pundits, Todd’s finest recording, featuring the much covered ‘I Saw The Light’ (number 16 U.S. Top 20), ‘It Wouldn’t have Made Any Difference’, ’Sweeter Memories’ and (his own take on) ’Hello it’s Me’ (number 5 U.S. Top 20).
yvonne elliman - sweeter memories - 1975
The strenuous work load undertaken in the completion of that album, led to a period of some substance abuse (including Ritalin).
Ritalin enabled Todd to produce music at an intensive rate (‘I Saw the Light’ was written in 20 minutes).
He entered his most creative period, releasing the album ‘A Wizard, a True Star’ in 1973, after which he stopped using stimulants.
‘Wizard’ featured some 20 songs, one of which was a medley of some old Soul tunes, including ‘I’m So Proud’, ‘La La Means I Love You’ and ‘Ooh, Baby Baby’, and featured input from the Brecker Brothers.
todd - 1974 / initiation - 1975 / faithful - 1976 / back to the bars - 1978
Todd returned to the double album format for the album ‘Todd’ in 1974.
This set featured ‘A Dream Goes On Forever’ and the ballad ‘The Last Ride’ (covered by Daryl Hall).
The rockier side of Todd’s material was showcased by 1975’s album ‘Initiation’, although the opening song ‘Real Man’ proved popular amongst Blue Eyed soul fans.
He set up a new group project entitled Utopia, and it was this band who recorded the Blue Eyed classic ‘Love Is The Answer’ (later covered by ex Stairstep, Keni Burke and England Dan & John Ford Coley).
keni burke - love is the answer - 1981
leroy burgess - hello it's me - 2007
Todd’s albums, in the late Seventies, varied in style, ‘Faithful’ containing a side of ‘faithful’ cover versions of some rock classics (original recordings by the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Yardbirds, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix), whilst ‘Hermit Of Mink Hollow’ was reported to be a very much more personal piece of writing, following his separation from his partner, at that time, Bebe Buell.
This set featured ‘Can We Still Be Friends’ (covered a year later by Robert Palmer).
hermit of mink hollow - 1978 / healing - 1981 / the ever popular tortured artist effect - 1982 / a cappella - 1984
Todd then relocated to Woodstock, where he built a bespoke studio.
At the time, around 1981, he discovered that the murderer of John Lennon (Mark Chapman), was obsessed with Todd (he was found with several albums on cassette in his belongings that day) and had tried to find him before killing the ex-Beatle.
1981's album 'Healing' was a prompted response to certain sections of society, who partly blamed the singer for Mark Chapman's actions.
Todd and John Lennon had no personal issues.
Then Todd's woodstock studio was also broken into, and Todd later relocated again to the Hawaiian island of Kauai in the 1990's.
nearly human - 1989 / with a twist... - 1997 / todd rundgren box set - 2016
The Eighties saw Todd revisiting Soul Music, none more so than the 1989 album ’Nearly Human’, which featured ‘The Want Of A Nail’ (featuring Bobby Womack, Jeannie Tracey & Michele Gray, who Todd later married).
In 1997, he released the album ‘With A Twist...’, which featured bossa nova versions of some of his most popular songs.
By 2015, Todd had released his 25th album ‘Global’.
His openness with his fan base has brought up some personal issues.
One female fan arrived at his house in a removal van, declaring that his wife's belongings should be removed, she would be moving in, as she was his new wife!
He continues to tour, and still continues to ‘knee jerk’ against the conventional.
england dan & john ford coley - love is the answer - 1979
cory braverman - i saw the light - 1976
Runt (Ampex Records 1970)
Runt. The Ballad of Todd Rundgren (Bearsville Records 1971)
Something/Anything? (Bearsville Records 1972)
A Wizard, a True Star (Bearsville Records 1973)
Todd (Bearsville Records 1974)
Initiation (Bearsville Records 1975)
Faithful (Bearsville Records 1976)
Hermit of Mink Hollow (Bearsville Records 1978)
Healing (Bearsville Records 1981)
The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect (Bearsville Records 1982)
A Cappella (Warner Brothers Records 1985)
Nearly Human (Warner Brothers Records 1989)
2nd Wind (Warner Brothers Records 1991)
No World Order (Forward Records 1993)
The Individualist (Forward Records 1995)
With a Twist... (Guardian Records 1997)
One Long Year (Artemis Records 2000)
Liars (Sanctuary Records 2004)
Arena (Cooking Vinyl Records 2008)
Todd Rundgren's Johnson (MPCA Records 2011)
(re)Production (Gigatone Records 2011)
State (Cherry Red Records 2013)
Global (Esoteric Antenna Records 2015)
Runddans (Smalltown Supersound Records 2015)
White Knight (Cleopatra Records 2017)