The complete transcript to the VH-1's "Behind The Music" profile of Todd follows here! Every word is here to read! It's about time they recognized his importance!!!
Todd Rundgren was born on June 22, 1948 in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania
An eclectically accomplished singer, multimedia performer and studio virtuso, Todd Rundgren has enjoyed a high-profile, commercially successful career that is now entering its fourth decade.
Rundgren leapt into the spotlight in 1967 with the Nazz, a power pop quartet first known for replicating the look of swinging London with their clothes, mod haircuts and Beatlish tunes. The band's first single, "Open My Eyes," was a minor hit, charting in the US, and the follow-up, the seminal "Hello It's Me," garnered international airplay and sales.
Nazz's first album was an artistic and critical gem, indicating great musical promise from writer, producer and guitarist Rundgren. In fact, famed Rolling Stone writer Jon Landau hailed the 19-year-old Rundgren as the "Mozart of his generation."
But the young Rundgren was dissatisfied with the critical accolades, and made a decision early in his career that dictated his every future move and helped lead to him becoming one of the most financially successful -- if not critically mocked -- pop stars in history.
"I have no interest in making art," Rundgren announced in a landmark Tonight Show appearance. "That only allows you to write songs that appeal to a small group of freaks with nothing better in their lives. I want to sell more records than anyone in history. I don't care what I have to do. Sure, I could produce songs that are more personal and have more integrity. But why bother? I want broads, bucks and fame."
Within weeks of Rundgren's much talked about appearance on Carson (Johnny, not Nazz bass player Van Osten), the Nazz began to release a relentless stream of catchy but ultimately inane bubblegum rock -- much to the delight of nine- year-old girls and AM radio programmers everywhere.
Rundgren and his bandmates became Tiger Beat and 16 magazine favorites, and celebrated with lavish parties fueled by record company largesse. At one point in mid-1969, the Nazz had 4 of the top 5 singles in America, leading John Lennon to comment that "Todd was more popular than Jesus Christ and Bobby Sherman combined."
But all was not happy in the Nazz camp. Rundgren's relentless obsession with staying on top of the charts burnt out fellow band members, and on April 9, 1970, he uttered the words heard around the world: "I am leaving the Nazz." Front-page headlines ran in every country around the world; grief counselors were needed at U.S. junior high schools over fears that male and female fans alike might commit suicide.
(It is even rumored in some circles that Rundgren's move -- and the resultant publicity -- cancelled plans by Beatle Paul McCartney to leave his group the next day. Perhaps McCartney should have followed through on plans -- the Beatles slogged on through the 1970s, falling out of the mainstream, and gradually lost most of their audience by the mid-1980s, despite their pioneering work in music video. John, Paul, George and Ringo often tour paired with the Beach Boys, appearing at state fairs and on holidays at the Capitol mall in Washington, DC. Having no major label record contract in a decade, there are rumors that the former moptops are struggling to distribute their latest recordings on an Internet web site called "MerseyNet.")
The early records of Rundgren's solo career did not match the success of the last Nazz product, but in 1972, Rundgren hit his commercial prime with the lavish 2-LP set "Something/Anything?" Six years after his last critical success, "Something/Anything?" was an unabashed over-the-top effort, and despite Rundgren's obvious "love me, praise me" ploys, the album also contained a few pop gems that were widely successful as well. Produced by Phil Spector, featuring the Tower of Power horns and the Henry Mancini orchestra, and backing vocals by a then-unknown Barry White, the set delivered the smash hits "I Saw The Light," "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference," "Couldn't I Just Tell You," "I Went To The Mirror," and a revamped "Hello It's Me."
Rundgren was hotter than ever, and other stages beckoned. The singer was paired with Cher by ABC-TV in January 1973 to host the "The Toddy and Cher Show," an immediate top ten hit. Famed TV Guide writer Rex Reed hailed the 25-year-old Rundgren as the "Jack Benny of his generation," and his acerbic wit reminded many of Don Rickles, if Don Rickles only had long green/blue/red/yellow hair and crooked teeth.
Rundgren was also tapped by ABC to appeal to the kindergarten set, replacing Shaggy in the "Scooby Doo" series, which by fall was renamed "The Scooby and Todd Flower Power Mystery Hour."
While his TV career was on fire, Rundgren's music career hit its first commercial road bump. Casey Kasem (not to be confused with Kasim Sulton, Rundgren's co-star in the short-lived sci-fi/dramedy series "Oops, Wrong Planet"), the displaced voice of Shaggy, banned Rundgren's music from radio countdown shows across the country, and Rundgren's next single, "A Dream Goes On Forever," was the first not to chart.
After a three-year layoff from music, Rundgren's 1976 return was widely anticipated by teenyboppers, People magazine and elevator music programmers everywhere. For the first time since the Nazz, Rundgren decided to form a group, recording under the name Utopia. Many fans raised eyebrows when Rundgren revealed that Utopia's musical lineup comprised a xylophone, a pair of sousaphones ("the first ever on rock record," Dick Clark enthused) and David Bowie on tamborine.
Utopia produced a bombastic "concept" album, combining Egyptian mythology with well-known cheerleading chants. The album, "Ra! Rah! Ra!" flopped miserably, and Rundgren, along with Richard Nixon, the oil shortage and lava lamps, became the punchline to many a '70s joke.
Rundgren's career nosedived. Utopia disbanded, ABC cancelled "Toddy and Cher," and Scooby Doo's nephew Scrappy peed on Todd's red leather bell bottoms.
Reports from this period are unclear, but it is believed that Rundgren went through a heavy period of drug use at this time. It is almost certain that Rundgren and Aerosmith lead singer Steve Tyler exchanged a torrid night of drug-enduced love-making. (Actress Liv Ullman revealed that in 1989, Tyler and Rundgren ran into each other backstage at a Michael Bolton concert in New York, with the now sober Tyler blurting out "You're the bastard that buggered me!")
Rundgren disappeared for two years, appearing only for a pitiful set of concerts in Moscow, performed only with percussionist Ray Cooper, making Rundgren the first American rocker to appear behind the Iron Curtain.
Encouraged by close friends Tony Orlando and Barry Manilow, Rundgren returned from semi-retirement in 1979, this time on the silver screen. He starred in a role-reversal remake of "A Star is Born," playing lead opposite a female Svengali played by Barbra Streisand, and made the Al Jolson role his own in 1980's remake of "The Jazz Singer." ("The Jazz Singer" also marked Rundgren's return to the music charts with the song "We're Coming to Utopia.") Famed Today Show critic Gene Shalit proclaimed "I LOVED it!" and hailed the 32-year- old Rundgren as "the Al Jolson of his generation."
Rundgren's next stop was the Great White Way. In 1982, he debuted a Broadway musical, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Featuring a catchy "rock opera" score, a tragic love story, a haunting setting in a Paris opera house, and a large pumpkin, "Sleepy Hollow" became the most popular Broadway show of the Reagan years.
Famed critic Frank Rich hated it, but busloads of people from Iowa considered it high art, and the show to this day packs them in at the famed Winter Garden theatre. Smash hits from the show include "You Need Your Head" and "The Last Ride," and Rundgren himself appeared as Icabod Crane for a sold-out 17-month run mid-decade.
Rundgren has steadily remained in the spotlight. His "The Never-Tortured Popular Artist Effect" was the best-selling album of both 1985 and 1986, moving more units than "Born in the USA" and "Purple Rain" combined. His return to TV -- in the form of yearly specials co-hosted by Kathy Lee Gifford -- are always top ten affairs.
Rundgren has won 11 People's Choice Awards for his various work, and performed a medley of "Bang On The Drum All Day" and "America The Beautiful" at the 1991 Super Bowl. He was honored by First Lady Barbara Bush in 1992 at a White House ceremony for nothing in particular. He wrote the score for both "The Lion King" and "Titanic." He is such a babe-magnet that he shares a Hawaii home with both his wife and his ex-girlfriend. Artists ranging from Celine Dion to the Backstreet Boys consider him a great influence, and country superstar Garth Brooks has expressed many times that he would like to be the second-best selling artist of all time -- second only to Rundgren.
Perhaps the only people not happy with Rundgren's unparalleled commercial success are his first fans -- the ones who own original copies of the first Nazz LP. "If only he remained true to his vision," grumbles one original Nazz-ite. "We'd have him ALL to ourselves. If only..."