Acclaimed producer/songwriter Todd Rundgren was the featured guest for a recent installment of the GRAMMY Museum's An Evening With series. In an intimate interview setting, Rundgren discussed his musical influences, his tenure in the psychedelic rock band the Nazz and his work as a producer/engineer, among other topics. Following the interview, Rundgren performed a brief set, including "I Don't Want To Tie You Down," from his 1973 solo album A Wizard, A True Star, and "Bang The Drum All Day," from 1983's The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect.
"My very first professional gig was as a blues guitar player when I got out of high school," said Rundgren. "I was playing a mishmash of blues, Beatles and Yardbirds [songs]."
Born in Upper Darby, Pa., Rundgren landed his first professional gig as the guitarist for the Philadelphia-based blues band Woody's Truck Stop. He then formed the Nazz with bassist Carson Von Osten in 1967. A year later, the Nazz released their self-titled debut album featuring 10 songs, a majority of which were penned by Rundgren. Rundgren departed the band to focus on a solo career, releasing his debut album, Runt, under the guise of the band Runt, in 1970. Rundgren earned his renown as a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer with 1972's Something/Anything? peaking at No. 29 on the Billboard 200 and featuring the Top 10 hit "Hello It's Me," one of his five songs to crack the Top 40. ("Hello It's Me" was originally recorded on the Nazz's debut album.) In 1974 Rundgren formed the progressive rock band Utopia, a project he continued to record with into the mid-'80s. As a producer, Rundgren's résumé includes work with artists such as Patti Smith, Cheap Trick, Grand Funk Railroad, Hall & Oates, and Meat Loaf's 1977 album Bat Out Of Hell, which peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard 200 and has sold more than 14 million copies.
Released in April, Rundgren's latest solo album, Todd Rundgren's Johnson, is a tribute to the legendary bluesman Robert Johnson. The album features 12 interpretations of Johnson's songs, including blues classics such as "Sweet Home Chicago," "Love In Vain" and "Crossroad Blues."
Upcoming GRAMMY Museum events include An Evening With Dave Alvin (Sept. 19), The Drop: Johnny Gil (Sept. 20), Spotlight: Matthew Morrison (Sept. 24), and An Evening With Blind Boys Of Alabama (Sept. 28).
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