Todd Rundgren...why isn’t he more famous?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by majoyenrac, Mar 9, 2018.

  1. majoyenrac

    majoyenrac Forum Resident Thread Starter

    This thread is about the (legend) Todd Rundgren....

    I wasn’t alive in his heyday but as a performer he has 2 of the alltime great records (Something/Anything- the in its day famous/now obscurely famous one & the absolutely magnificent A Wizard, A True Star). He has a half dozen other classics.

    I get that he took his own path as a maverick but so did others who remain super famous (Waits, Zappa and to bigger commercial highs Reed and Bowie).

    He was simply an amazing guitarist who liked to go soft but always had a hard rock pedigree and would pull that out on every record...

    He’s respected by many (Prince and Reznor have cited him as major influences)...

    He also was a huge producer for a time.

    His raised daughter Liv Tyler was huge for a time, but literally Todd’s name was only known to me by searching him out unheard....

    What happened?

    I guess I’m listening to A Wizard A True Star which always blows my mind and I can’t understand why Todd doesn’t live like the rock legend he is in the mass public mindset..

    Thoughts do Todd talk welcome...

    I know he lives like a legend personally in Hawaii but he had to sell the rights to Bat out of Hell to do that and he should have been able to from his own performances)
  2. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Forum Resident

    He made his own course and played whatever he liked, meanwhile producing other artists paid the bills. He is well known among rock music aficionados and he has a loyal following that will keep him comfortable as long as he wants to tour and record. That’s success.

    He is a little too quirky and unpredictable for most people. My friend says half of Todd’s songs sound like they are all coda. Most people want to listen to something that doesn’t challenge them. Todd is always interesting.
  3. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    Why? Here he is on the Midnight Special, with a hit record...

    ...and he's dressed like a peacock.
  4. Ghostworld

    Ghostworld Forum Resident

    He suffers from the same thing I do musically -- overindulgence. He has so much music and so many ideas in his head that a listener chasing them can get exhausted. That's why his simple ballads are so transplendid sic. Shelly Duvall. TR is so blessed with the ability to do anything, that I think his boredom blossomed into inaccessible forays of experimentation and pushed him into "oh, those crazy progs" category when he should have cruised at least a Dylanesque level.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
  5. stax o' wax

    stax o' wax Forum Resident

    The West
    I think he achieved the public acclaim he warranted.
  6. warewolf95

    warewolf95 Forum Resident

    Greenville, SC
    Having just recently discovered Todd myself, I can't agree with you more, OP

    I tend to think of him like being the Zappa of pop or something.

    Innovative, unique, unafraid to take chances and do his own thing, killer guitarist....
  7. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    More seriously, he was making so much as a producer that he didn't have to make a living from his records, right from the start with Runt. He was the house producer at Bearsville Records, and Albert Grossman let him record an album of his songs just to indulge him. But he's said, time and time again, that he records albums for himself, and if other people like them...that's nice.
  8. majoyenrac

    majoyenrac Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I mean here... 2:06 and 3:44 mark are one(s)of the best guitar solos ever...

  9. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    I would say he did a huge number of things to sabotage his career, and the fans he has left are incredible diehards willing to follow Todd anywhere he went musically.
  10. majoyenrac

    majoyenrac Forum Resident Thread Starter


    Um...isn’t this Peter Gabriel?

    70s were a different time
  11. Joseph LeVie

    Joseph LeVie Forum Resident

    South Florida
    He's incredibly inconsistent and not always in an interesting way. I do have to say that I've got a lot of his albums. I love some of them to death and find some really boring and/or horrible sounding. And, for a "prodigy" producer not a lot of high fidelity sounds. Still, love the dude and I'll be seeing him soon (unless he reads this and bans me, that rat!). Some of his ideas have been a huge inspiration to me. See, even a forty year fan has trouble. How can you expect the masses?
  12. thgord

    thgord In Search of My New Euphoric Groove

    Moorpark, CA
    Never miss the chance to see Todd live whenever he comes around my parts. Say him most recently this past January at the Canyon in Agoura Hills. Great band and show as always. He's playing again in May with Utopia at the Wiltern Theater. I encourage anyone who hasn't yet checked him out to not put it off.
  13. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    I've found something of value in every zig Todd's zagged, except maybe the album of Robert Johnson covers. Personally, his "laptop" albums are better engineered than most of the ones he produced on tape.

    There are two parts of being a producer - recording the music and capturing the performance. He'd rather concentrate on getting the best performance than getting the perfect sound.
  14. micksmuse

    micksmuse Forum Resident

    san diego
    anyone that gets to do what they want when they want and has a good deal of success is lucky to say the least.
    he is very well known around the people i know. his shows still draw rabid fans.
    he even was able to raise the notice and ire of some of the beatles. and he is still doing it at this late date and sounding superb.
    he dance's to the his own beat from a drum he likes to beat on all day. hard to argue with that.
  15. Morton LaBongo

    Morton LaBongo Forum Resident

    Manchester NH
    To this day I wonder why Todd Rundgren is not more well known than he is. I have no idea why, but I've noticed that a lot of people who play instruments or are involved in making music for work/hobby will a lot of times know who he is. I still remember being a little kid, before I even had to go to school, and being mesmerized by Hello It's Me on the radio. Amazing dreamy vocals, and the music seemed to have such depth coming through stereo speakers. Later when I got older in my teens I got all the Todd I could afford and listened to it. I definitely preferred his earlier stuff and the albums up through Todd s/t but still listened through to them pretty much all the way to Hermit of Mink Hollow. For me, almost no other artist(s) can compete quality-wise with Todd's 1972-1974 period of work, that stuff was just staggeringly great. And on top of that, his albums were long and he jammed a ton of music onto them. Listening to A Wizard A True Star for the first time was like watching a movie or something, especially the first side. WOW.
  16. Chemguy

    Chemguy Forum Resident

    I’m going to say...Because he never tried.
  17. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    Some of his best albums have a few terrible tracks in them. Not a consistent recording artist.

    But the catalog does have tons of gems all over era. In fact Todd has full album sides that are classic where the entire album might not be.

    I love the original side of Faithful, the concept side of Healing, the soul covers side of Wizard True Star.

    He's a survivor no doubt.
  18. egebamyasi

    egebamyasi Forum Resident

    Worcester, MA
    He is who he is. Not sure if he sabotaged his own career or just can't play it straight. So talented that he couldn't be denied. You've heard his songs or his productions. A wizard but maybe not a true star.
    musicarus and Keith V like this.
  19. RudolphS

    RudolphS Forum Resident

    Rio de Janeiro
    Todd Rundgren once told the Mael brothers "As an artist you gotta be as outlandish as you can", while producing the first Sparks album. This advice and attitude turned out to be a huge benefit on an artistic level for the careers of both Sparks and Todd himself, but it of course prevented artists like them to fully connect with the mainstream audience (apart from the odd hitsingle).
    jupiter8 and audiotom like this.
  20. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    The way you make a successful career in music is to find the one style of music that people want to hear you do and keep doing that thing.

    Which Todd could never do.

    Paul Fishkin, Todd's one-time roommate (aka "Leroy Boy" in We Gotta Get You A Woman), told this story on an early Internet Todd forum. He became an executive at Bearsville and Todd brought in A Dream Goes On Forever as a demo - just piano and vocal. Fishkin said that he and his fellow executives had a nearly orgasmic reaction, and "started picking out the color of the sports cars we were all going to buy." Todd was appalled by the naked greed, said "It's not finished!" and added all the synths and percussion.

    Fishkin later said the original was the sort of song to which "virginities were lost" and it would have been a timeless classic.

    Anyone who was primarily motivated by success and/or money would have taken the money and run, re-written the song a dozen ways from sunday and bought a huge house and maybe a private jet.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
  21. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    Yikes! I just hit 10,000 posts.

    On a Todd Rundgren thread.

    Yep, that sounds about right.
  22. warewolf95

    warewolf95 Forum Resident

    Greenville, SC
    That's right. He was kinda like a producer that just used his earnings to make solo albums, haha. I know once he opened his video studio that was pretty much the case because of how expensive it was - produce, produce, produce to pay for it all
  23. warewolf95

    warewolf95 Forum Resident

    Greenville, SC
    That's some dang good synchronicity if I do say so myself. :)
  24. mahanusafa02

    mahanusafa02 Forum Resident

    His name sucks? It doesn’t exactly stick in memory and it doesn’t roll off the tongue like “Neil Young” or “Ted Nugent” or that guy “Jethro Tull.”

  25. malco49

    malco49 Forum Resident

    ummm i think he is pretty gosh darn famous

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