March 8, 2014
Todd Rundgren is a sixty-five year old, multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, engineer and producer originally from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. His first band was Woody’s Truck Stop, a Philadelphia based blues band. Rundgren and bassist Carson Van Osten left the group during 1967 to form Nazz, a psychedelic/garage rock band along with Robert Antoni on keyboards and vocals and Thom Moody on drums. In 1968, Nazz recorded Hello, It’s Me, which, when re-recorded several years later while a solo artist, would go on to become Rundgren’s biggest career hit.
Nazz released three albums: Nazz (1968), Nazz Nazz (1969) and Nazz III (1971). The songs on Nazz III were recorded during the sessions for Nazz Nazz, which was intended to be released as a double album entitled Fungo Bat. The record label instead released half the tracks as Nazz Nazz, and then released the others as Nazz III a year or so after the band had split up, in order to capitalize on the rapidly increasing popularity of Rundgren as a solo artist.
After Nazz disbanded, Rundgren moved to New York City to work as a music producer. During his career as a producer, he produced albums such as Straight Up by Badfinger; Stage Freight by The Band; We’re An American Band by Grand Funk Railroad; Bat Out Of Hell by Meat Loaf and the New York Dolls self-titled debut. In 1970, Rundgren formed Runt along with Tony Sales on bass and Hunt Sales on drums. The Sales brothers are sons of famed, pie-in-the-face comedian Soupy Sales. Runt released two albums: Runt in 1970 and Runt: The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren in 1971. Although Runt was officially a band, the albums were essentially Rundgren solo projects as his face only is shown on both album covers. CD releases of the first Runt album are titled Todd Rundgren Runt.
After moving to Los Angeles in 1970, Rundgren released his first “official” solo album, Something/Anything? during 1972, in which he wrote, played, engineered and produced every track on the first three sides of the double album. After an earthquake struck southern California, Rundgren went back east, to the Record Plant in New York City to record with session musicians the seven songs that appear on side four. Hello, It’s Me, re-recorded more up-tempo, was edited down into a single and was released in 1973, becoming Rundgren’s only major pop hit. Something/Anything? is Rundgren’s biggest selling album and most likely his best.
In 1973, Rundgren released A Wizard, A True Star. Another double album, Todd, was released in 1974. It is these three albums that probably saw Rundgren at his peak creative ability, while reaching his highest levels in both popularity and album sales. By 1974, Rundgren was revolving back into a band format, this time as Utopia, which featured Kasm Sulton on bass and vocals, Willie Wilcox on drums and Roger Powell on keyboards and vocals. It was as Utopia that these photographs were taken. Utopia disbanded during the mid 1980s. Todd Rundgren continues releasing albums as a solo artist to this day.
These photos were taken at Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium, in Columbus, Ohio, USA on December 28, 1980. Needless to say, they were shot on film, and the 4×6 prints were scanned onto my computer, where they were tweaked just a little, adjusting both the color and darkness levels. As such, looking at these photos on WordPress.com does not do justice to the 4×6 photographs. A great deal of sharpness was lost in the process, especially during the scanning of the print. One day, I need to break down and buy a film negative scanner. However, I have my eye on a baby blue Fender Stratocaster with Texas Special pickups and a guitar will most likely be my next major purchase. I love my photography, but priorities are priorities. What I really need to do is win one of my state’s two lottery games as I have way too many things I need, or maybe its things I want, but so little cash in which to buy these things.
I was gonna upload these nine photographs in the order in which they were shot, because, during the first half of the show, Rundgren and his band wore dark clothing, then switched to all white outfits after an intermission. However, I decided to sequence them based on overall quality.
If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!
Steven H. Spring