Class of 1966
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Rundgren began playing guitar as a teenager, going on to found and front quintessential '60s cult group The Nazz. 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 Rundgren into the superstar limelight, prompting the press to unanimously dub him "Rock's New Wunderkind." This was followed by such landmark LPs as "The Hermit of Mink Hollow", "A Wizard, A True Star" and such hit singles as I Saw The Light, Hello It's Me, Can We Still Be Friends, and Bang The Drum.
Additionally, as a producer, Rundgren has brought his creativity to bear on albums by the New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Cheap Trick, The Psychedelic Furs, The Tubes, MeatLoaf, XTC, Grand Funk Railroad, Hall & Oates, Paul Shaffer, and many other artists. He is also highly regarded as a film/TV composer having scored projects ranging from "Pee Wee's Playhouse" to "Crime Story" to "Dumb and Dumber" for which he received BMI's 'Film Composer of the Year' accolades.
In 1974 Rundgren formed Utopia, an entirely new approach to the concept of musical high adventure, and embarked on an extensive round of recording and touring that continued throughout much of the '70s and '80s. Utopia combined technical virtuosity and creative passion to create music that, for millions, defined the term 'progressive rock'.
By the late '70s Todd began programming personal computers and since then he has been involved in the development of products ranging from digital artist's tools (Utopia Graphic Tablet System) to computer generated kinetic art (FlowFazer, GrokGazer) to interactive music (No World Order) to enhanced CD (The Individualist). His skills have been applied as a consultant to companies in diverse areas such as communications (General Magic) and digital video (NewTek). He has been invited to speak of his developments and theories to a broad range of audiences for the likes of Apple Computer, AutoDesk, Xerox, NEC, and a number of universities as well as being a regular on the tech-talk circuit. He is conversant to fluent in programming languages such as C, Java, HTML, Lingo, MAX and perhaps 25 additional commonly used creative software applications. v Someone who has always acted to liberate technology in the service of creativity, Rundgren is widely heralded as a true pioneer among multimedia artists with an extensive list of 'firsts':
In 1978, Rundgren performed the first interactive television concert broadcast live over the Warner/QUBE system in Columbus, Ohio (the home audience chose each song in real time during the concert by voting via QUBE's two-way operating system).
Also in 1978, he delivered the first live nationally broadcast radio concert in stereo (by microwave), linking 40 cities around the country.
In 1979, Todd opened Utopia Video Studios, a multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art facility. The first project he produced there, Gustav Holst's "The Planets", was commissioned by RCA SelectaVision as the first demonstration software for their new videodisc format.
In 1980, Rundgren directed and produced "Time Heals", the first music video to utilize compositing of live action and computer graphics, a project which became the second video ever to be played on MTV (after "Video Killed the Radio Star").
In 1981, he created the first graphics tablet driven paintbox software for personal computers, which was subsequently licensed to Apple Computer as the "Utopia Graphics Tablet System".
In 1982, Rundgren performed the first live national cablecast of a rock concert via USA Network, which was simulcast in stereo to over 120 radio stations.
Also in 1982, Todd produced the first two commercially released music videos, one of which was nominated for the first-ever Grammy awarded for "Best Short Form Video" in 1983.
Rundgren composed all of the music and lyrics for Joseph Papp's 1989 Off-Broadway production of Joe Orton's "Up Against It" -- the screenplay commissioned by The Beatles for what was to have been their third motion picture.
Todd continued with his groundbreaking efforts in converging media and technology. In 1993, he established a new musical genre when he composed, produced and performed the world's first interactive audio-only CD-ROM project, "No World Order", which was licensed to both Philips Interactive Media and Electronic Arts, and was released simultaneously with his record company's release of the traditional non-interactive, linear version of the album. In 1994, "No World Order" won "Best Composition/Arrangement" from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, and the "Best Interactive Disc of the Year" Award from Video Magazine.
A unique validation of Rundgren's many contributions to the arts came in May 1995 when he received the prestigious Berkeley Lifetime Achievement Award from the Popular Culture Society at UC Berkeley along with fellow recipients Robert Altman, Maya Angelou, Aretha Franklin, David Hockney, Liza Minelli and Brian Wilson. Bestowed annually, the awards "honor artists who re-define a genre, show excellence through diversity in their art, communicate the essence of a time period, or work towards positive social change." In March of 1996 Todd received further recognition at the 19th Annual Bay Area Music Awards with a Lifetime Service Award.
In November 1995, Rundgren continued his long history of multimedia 'firsts' with the release of "The Individualist". Described by Rundgren as a 'multimedia album', the title was available exclusively as an Enhanced CD (one of the first in the category) via a distribution arrangement with Navarre. Since its release, "The Individualist" has received accolades and critical acclaim, including having been rated "Best of Show" at Digital Hollywood in February of 1996.
As an adjunct to his many other activities during this period, Rundgren served a stint as a DJ on a weekly radio show, "The Difference with Todd Rundgren." A melange of music, interviews and Rundgren's wry commentary, "The Difference" was syndicated by United Stations nationally to over 35 major-market stations. The two-hour show, heralded as a success and nominated alongside the Howard Stern Show for several awards, ran for two years before wrapping in November 1996 due to a change in show format.
During 1997, Todd was one of the first (and only) Western artists to perform for the Chinese during the summer Shanghai Festival. He also released two songs exclusively over the Internet, "Surf Talks" and "Hit Me Like a Train". With a penchant for doing something with a Latin flair, Todd set about to re-record several of his classic 'hits' in a Bossa Nova style and released "With a Twist" on Angel/Guardian Records, subsequently touring behind it with an elaborately designed stage set-up. Rundgren also released the long-awaited tunes behind Joe Orton's Off-Broadway show "Up Against It" (in Japan only via Pony Canyon). Having enjoyed his previous incarnation as a radio personality, Todd signed on as the host of "Music Nexus", a debut weekly online radio program on the emerging EnterMedia Network (see "www.EMNetwork.com" for additional details). He also inked a deal with Avon Books to pen his autobiography, due out sometime in '98.
Rundgren is currently President & CEO of Waking Dreams ("www.wakingdreams.com"). This visionary collective founded by Todd and partners was officially incorporated in March 1996, and is now focused on the development and licensing of original or undervalued ideas into marketable content, services and technologies. Todd is in the process of re-defining the relationship between the performer and audience (and how creative content is distributed) with PatroNet ("www.patronet.com") -- an online subscription model that allows consumers to directly underwrite an artist's works and download components as they are created for an annual fee. See Todd's own subscription site offering available at "www.tr-i.com" for further specifics.
With a reputation for applying his talents to a diverse range of projects and for bringing true versatility to his profession, Rundgren continues to inspire and expand his audience.
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