[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tr.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:He was born to synthesize.]]

->''"I don't want to work.''\\
''I just want to bang on the drum all day."''

Todd Rundgren is a musician, singer, [[IAmTheBand multi-instrumentalist]] and RecordProducer from Philadelphia, known for his [[NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly eclectic, experimental style]], incredibly prolific recording and quirky sense of humour. While he's dabbled in numerous styles and has experimented a lot with his material, he largely operates within a few rock subgenres, namely: PowerPop (coincidentally, the one he made his initial name in), HardRock, ProgressiveRock, PsychedelicRock and {{Soul}}. His [[NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly mix and match musical genres]] approach, dabbling in TrueArtIsIncomprehensible, cult following and emphasis on humour has earned him occasional comparisons to Music/FrankZappa.

Rundgren started his career as a guitarist/vocalist in the PsychedelicRock band (The) Nazz [[note]]nothing to do with that [[WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy other Nazz]] - their name comes from "The Nazz Are Blue" by TheYardbirds[[/note]], which he founded in 1967 alongside bassist Carson Van Osten, drummer Thom Mooney and keyboardist/vocalist Robert Antoni. Their first album, ''Nazz'', showcased both his arranging and composing talents and the band's heavily derivative, PromotedFanboy sound - they sounded like a cross between Music/TheBeatles, TheWho, {{Cream}} and TheYardbirds. It spawned a minor hit single, "Hello It's Me", and didn't go much anywhere. A planned double album was shortened to a single LP, ''Nazz Nazz'', and released a year later. ''Nazz Nazz'' showed the band somewhat abandoning its psychedelic trappings and concentrating on catchy, if still not too groundbreaking PowerPop. Rundgren left the band shortly after, as his newfound love of Music/CaroleKing, Music/LauraNyro and soul music and the resulting material he was writing didn't fit with the band's PowerPop sound. The band disintegrated shortly thereafter, and an album of the heavily Nyro-influenced material left over from previous sessions was released, imaginatively titled ''Nazz III''. Antoni and Mooney briefly ended up joining Fuse, an extremely early incarnation of Music/CheapTrick which played throughout the Midwest billed either as "Fuse" or "Nazz", before practically vanishing from the music industry.

Rundgren officially began his solo career in 1970, and has been going steady ever since then with his musical mashups and quirky lyrics. While PowerPop and HardRock have remained the basic genres he operates in, at various points he's experimented with PsychedelicRock, ProgressiveRock (between 1973-1976 and with his band Utopia), jazz fusion, NewWaveMusic, {{Soul}}, {{Techno}}, ElectronicMusic and others. Predictably, he has a very sizeable {{Fandom}} but only a few, fleeting moments of mainstream success, such as the singles "Hello It's Me" (a 1972 upbeat reworking of the Nazz song with Rundgren on all instruments), "I Saw the Light", "Can We Still Be Friends" and "Bang the Drum All Day". His massive output, both solo and with his two bands Nazz and Utopia, can be a frequent source of both ArchivePanic and SeasonalRot.

He is also known for being an [[FollowTheLeader early adopter and innovator]] in the domains of {{Music Video}}s and use of computers: his video for "Time Heals" was one of the first to be aired on {{MTV}}, he developed one of the first computer paint programs for the Apple II, Utopia Graphics System, way back in 1981, he was an early adopter of the desktop video program Video Toaster[[note]]the same hardware responsible for most of the CGI in ''Series/BabylonFive''[[/note]] for Amiga in TheNineties, and was one of the first people to distribute his work online, long before iTunes or even Napster, through a subscription service, [=PatroNet=], in the mid-nineties.

Rundgren returned to the band format through the foundation of Utopia in 1973. In its initial incarnation, Utopia was a six-piece ensemble with Rundgren, Kevin Ellman (percussion), Mark "Moogy" Klingman (keyboards), M. Frog Labat (Jean Yves Labat, synthesizers), Ralph Schukett (keyboards), and John Siegler (bass and cello). Their output was largely formed of [[EpicRocking long]], jammy ProgressiveRock instrumentals that brought a mixed reception. By 1976, Rundgren revamped Utopia and reduced it to a four-piece band consisting of him, Kasim Sulton (bass, vocals), Roger Powell (keyboards, vocals) and Willie Wilcox (drums, vocals). They also switched to a catchy, mainstream pop/HardRock sound, bringing them critical and commercial success. They carried on for a while, leaning increasingly towards Pop and NewWaveMusic, before calling it a day in 1986.

Alongside his solo career and work with bands, Rundgren is also known as a RecordProducer, having produced albums for such acts as Music/{{Sparks}}, New York Dolls, Badfinger, TheBand, GrandFunkRailroad, MeatLoaf, Bonnie Tyler, PattiSmith, The Tubes, {{XTC}}, BadReligion, CheapTrick, The Psychedelic Furs, Hall and Oates, and so on. Some of the bands have claimed that working with him was difficult and he acted like a JerkAss, most famously XTC, Sparks and Bad Religion. However, for many bands their most successful albums have been produced by him, as is the case with XTC (''Skylarking''), Grand Funk Railroad (''We're an American Band'') and Meat Loaf (''Bat out of Hell'').

Discography:

With Nazz:
* ''Nazz'' (1968)
* ''Nazz Nazz'' (1969)
* ''Nazz III'' (1970)

Solo:
* ''[[PowerPop Runt]]'' (1970)
* ''[[BaroquePop The Ballad of Todd Rundgren]]'' (1971)
* ''[[DistinctDoubleAlbum Something/Anything?]]'' (1972)
* ''[[NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly A Wizard, a True Star]]'' (1973)
* ''[[NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly Todd]]'' (1974)
* ''[[ProgressiveRock Initiation]]'' (1975)
* ''[[PowerPop Fait]][[CoverAlbum hful]]'' (1976)
* ''[[NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly Hermit of Mink Hollow]]'' (1978)
* ''[[NewWaveMusic Healing]]'' (1981)
* ''[[NewWaveMusic The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect]]'' (1983)
* ''[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin A Cappella]]'' (1985)
* ''[[NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly Nearly Human]]'' (1989)
* ''[[LiveAlbum 2nd Wind]]'' (1991)
* ''[[{{Techno}} No World Order]]'' (1993)
* ''[[{{Techno}} The Individualist]]'' (1995)
* ''[[RearrangeTheSong With a Twist]]'' (1997)
* ''[[KeepCirculatingTheTapes Up Against It]]'' (1998)
* ''[[PowerPop One Long Year]]'' (2000)
* ''[[PowerPop Liars]]'' (2004)
* ''[[ArenaRock Arena]]'' (2008)
* ''[[CoverAlbum Todd Rundgren's Johnson]]'' (2011)
* ''[[CoverAlbum (re)Production]]'' (2011)
* ''[[{{Techno}} State]]'' (2013)

With Utopia:

* ''Todd Rundgren's Utopia'' (1974)
* ''Another Live'' (1975)
* ''Disco Jets'' (recorded 1976, released 2001)
* ''Ra'' (1977)
* ''Oops! Wrong Planet'' (1977)
* ''Adventures in Utopia'' (1980)
* ''Deface the Music'' (1980)
* ''Swing to the Right'' (1982)
* ''Utopia'' (1982)
* ''Oblivion'' (1984)
* ''P.O.V.'' (1985)

!Tropes:

* AffectionateParody: The Utopia album ''Deface the Music'' is largely a parody of Music/TheBeatles, from their early Merseybeat incarnation up to their trippy PsychedelicRock stuff.
** The cover of ''Swing to the Right'', retouches a photo of fundamentalist Christians burning Beatles memorabilia following JohnLennon's 'more popular than Jesus' remarks, to turn it into a DrosteImage.
* AllThereInTheManual: His liner notes for ''Something/Anything?''
* AscendedFanboy: Musically speaking, his early Nazz output is largely a game of {{Following The Lead|er}} of his favourite bands (Music/TheWho, Music/TheBeatles, Music/{{Cream}} and Music/TheYardbirds, mostly).
* {{Bishonen}}: In the Nazz days — also perhaps in the early 70's.
* BreakUpSong: "Hello It's Me"
* CampGay: "You Don't Have to Camp Around", supposedly.
* ClassClown: "Piss Aaron"
* ConceptAlbum: ''Initiation'' is one, sort of. Also side four of ''Something/Anything?'' is a RockOpera (see trope entry below).
* CoverVersion:
** "Never Never Land" from the ''PeterPan'' musical, "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" by The Yardbrids, "Good Vibrations" by the BeachBoys, "Rain" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" by Music/TheBeatles, "If 6 Was 9" by JimiHendrix, "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way (and I'll Go Mine)" by Music/BobDylan, "The Lord Chancellor's Nightmare Song" by Creator/GilbertAndSullivan (yes, we're not shitting you), "Two Little Hitlers" by ElvisCostello.
** ''Todd Rundgren's Johnson'' is an entire album of RobertJohnson covers (and not [[ICallHimMrHappy what you thought it was]]), and ''(re)Production'' consists of covers of songs from albums Rundgren had previously produced.
** And with Utopia, a cover of "Do Ya" by The Move and "For the Love of Money" by The O'Jays.
** ''A Wizard, A True Star'' has a medley of Motown covers: "I'm So Proud of You", "Ooh Baby Baby", "La-La Means I Love You" and, most interestingly, "Cool Jerk" performed in 7/8 instead of its normal 4/4.
* DeadpanSnarker: Known for being an extreme one. It has even damaged relationships with other musicians and left people whose work he produced insecure.
* DistinctDoubleAlbum: ''Something/Anything?'' cranks this UpToEleven: each of the four LP sides is in a different style, with the fourth being a mini-RockOpera.[[note]]Side one is described in the liner notes as "a bouquet of ear-catching melodies"; side two is "the cerebral side"; side three is "the kid gets heavy"; side four is "Baby Needs a New Pair of Snakeskin Boots (A Pop Operetta)".[[/note]] Furthermore, the only thing that stops ''Initiation'' (running time 67:27) and ''A Wizard, a True Star'' (running time 56:02) from falling under this trope is that they were pressed on one LP each because Rundgren didn't want to break up the continuous song suites he'd built - both albums were long enough to be double LP sets, and indeed Rundgren's album ''Todd'', released in between them, ''was'' a double album shorter than ''Initiation'' at 66:51. Both ''A Wizard'' and ''Initation'' ([[EspeciallyZoidberg especially]] ''[[EspeciallyZoidberg Initiation]]'') display markedly different styles on each side. Rundgren did Distinct Single Albums a lot, actually - ''Faithful'' is another example, with the first side consisting of note-for-note covers of other artists' songs as if they were classical music (hence the album title), and the second consisting of original material. ExecutiveMeddling also forced ''Hermit of Mink Hollow'' into this - initially Rundgren had a different running order, but the record company insisted on making the first side "The Easy Side" and the second side "The Difficult Side".
* DrosteImage: The cover of ''Swing to the Right''.
* EpicRocking: Particularly in his work with Utopia. "The Ikon" is Utopia's most extreme example of this, being slightly over thirty minutes long. His solo piece "A Treatise in Cosmic Fire" (from ''Initiation''), at thirty-five minutes, is even longer. It's worth noting that these pieces were so long they heavily stretched the limitations of the vinyl format, and resulted in the albums being mastered more quietly than normal [=LPs=] (and being easily damaged if played with a worn needle). The sleeve notes of ''Initiation'' (which, at sixty-eight minutes in length, is not the longest single LP ever released, but still pretty high on the list) recommended that a person record the album to tape to preserve the sound.
* ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin: the album ''A Cappella'', named for an Italian phrase meaning "without instruments," involves no instruments whatever, just Rundgren as a SelfBackingVocalist via lots of overdubbing.
* ForWantOfANail: "The Want of a Nail".
* FriendsWithBenefits: One common interpretation of "Hello It's Me" is that it's about this.
* InTheStyleOf: Did this with [[SelfParody his own songs]] on the album ''With a Twist'', which offered bossa nova tiki lounge versions of his most familiar hits.
* JustForPun: In case you somehow didn't get the title of ''Todd Rundgren's Johnson'', he titled the EP version ''[[SelfDeprecation Todd Rundgren's Short Johnson]]''.
* MediumAwareness: Side 2 of ''Something/Anything?'' has Todd introducing a game where the listeners keep an ear out for record mastering gaffes -- hiss, hum, popping P's, poor tape editing -- whoever finds the most, wins!
* MindScrew: ''A Wizard, A True Star'' for sure. And ''Todd'' to an extent. It was his psychedelic period!
* MinimalisticCoverArt: ''Faithful''
** Done specifically because he figured his fans were "faithful" enough to know it's his music and buy it.
* MundaneMadeAwesome: "I Hate My Frickin' ISP", from ''One Long Year'', is a hard-rocking rant about how much Todd's internet connection sucks.
* MusicalPastiche:
** Many of the songs from the first Nazz album are pretty blatantly derivative of BritishInvasion bands. Doesn't stop them from being enjoyable, though.
*** "Open My Eyes" is basically ripping off Music/TheWho's PowerPop era, a fact that the intro makes abundantly clear when it yanks the riff of "I Can't Explain".
*** "When I Get My Plane" sounds like it was beamed in from ''[[Music/TheBeatles A Hard Day's Night]]'', specifically imitating "When I Get Home".
*** "Back of Your Mind" sounds like a Music/{{Cream}} song stripped of instrumental virtuosity; Antoni and Rundgren even do a convincing job of sounding like Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton.
** "I Saw The Light" is a Music/CaroleKing pastiche.
** Also "Baby Let's Swing" (included as a medley on ''Runt'') is both about and in the style of Laura Nyro, his other major influence from this period.
** ''Deface the Music'' is a whole ''album'' of these. It's composed entirely of [[AffectionateParody Affectionate Parodies]] of Beatles songs, similar to TheRutles' music, and as with TheRutles, a listener could be forgiven for thinking these are lost Beatles songs (although the production sounds like a product of of the 1980s - maybe it was a Beatles reunion from an alternate universe where JohnLennon didn't die). It should be noted that Utopia don't do dead-on Beatles vocal impersonations as the Rutles did, however.
* MustHaveCaffeine: "Hot Espresso (All Jacked Up)" from ''The Individualist''.
* MyGirlIsASlut: [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin "Slut"]].
* NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly: ''A Wizard, A True Star'' is psychedelic without a doubt, but...what exactly ''is'' it?
* NewSoundAlbum: Almost every one of them.
* PopStarComposer: He scored ''DumbAndDumber''.
* ProtestSong: Todd began moving more into this during TheEighties, with songs like Utopia's cover of "For the Love of Money", "Swing to the Right", "Johnee Jingo", and later on, just about all of ''Liars''.
* RearrangeTheSong: ''With a Twist'' consists of previously recorded songs, rearranged in a bossa-nova style.
* RecordNeedleScratch: The "Intro" to Side 2 of ''Something/Anything?'' ends in one of these.
* RecordProducer
* RockOpera: Side four of ''Something/Anything?'' is devoted to "Baby Needs a New Pair of Snakeskin Boots (A Pop Operetta)".
* SelfBackingVocalist: Todd layers his own voice, especially in his early work, a lot for his solo.
* SelfDeprecation: "An Elpee's Worth of Tunes".
* SpokenWordInMusic: He does this often. "Intro" from ''Something/Anything?'', for example, wherein Todd jokingly demonstrates some of the engineering flaws that can affect an [=LP=].
* StraightEdge: Todd used to be straight edge while playing with Nazz and working on his early albums, but he got into marijuana with ''The Ballad of Todd Rundgren'', proceeded to experiment with ever more psychedelic substances, and when he began recording ''Something/Anything?'' he was heavily into Ritalin.
-->"I was a complete teetotaller. I didn't take any kind of drugs or drink or anything. In fact, I had found the behaviour of my peers, while they were high, to be somewhat questionable."
-->"It (Ritalin) caused me to crank out songs at an incredible pace. 'I Saw the Light' took me all of 20 minutes. You can see why, too, the [[PainfulRhyme rhymes are just moon/June/spoon kind of stuff]]..."
-->"With drugs I could suddenly abstract my thought processes in a certain way, and I wanted to see if I could put them on a record. A lot of people recognised it as the dynamics of a psychedelic trip—it was almost like painting with your head."
* TakeThat: "Rock N Roll Pussy" is a shot at Music/JohnLennon, who Rundgren perceived as something of a limousine liberal.
* TakeThatCritics: ''Initiation'' as a whole was Rundgren yelling "tough shit" to his fans and critics who complained that he was wading too deeply into synthesizers and Eastern spirituality. The topic is lyrically addressed at face value in the song "The Death of Rock and Roll". The album also closes with a 35 minute synthesizer orgasm, with movements named after the seven chakras and prana, the breath of life.
* TheSomethingSong: "Song of the Viking"
** Torch Song, from the same album.
* ThrowItIn + StudioChatter: ''Something/Anything?''
* UncommonTime: "Cool Jerk" amongst other things. Particularly common in his ProgressiveRock days.
* YeOldeButcheredeEnglishe: In the liner notes to ''Something/Anything?'', several lines of "Song of the Viking" are written with added silent Es, even though Vikings don't originate from the British Isles.
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