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 '60’s cult group. In 1969, he left the band to pursue a solo career, recording his debut offering, the legendary 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 Todd 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, Todd 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. Rounding out his reputation as rock’s Renaissance Man, Rundgren composed all the music and lyrics for Joe Papp’s 1989 Off-Broadway production of Joe Orton’s Up Against It (the screenplay commisioned 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 album in ten years, Liars was released in 2004 followed by Arena (2008). Recorded in Todd’s current home state of Hawaii, Arena showcases his unique songwriting style and sonically captures the essence and energy of arena rock with bombastic, guitar-driven tunes like “Mountaintop”, “Strike” and “Mad”, while the anthemic song, “Mercenary”, transports the listener to a stadium with its epic chorus, with “How Do You Like Me Now?” resounding to every seat in the house.