Hailed in the early stage of his career as a new pop-wunderkind, supported by the certified gold solo double LP Something/Anything? in 1972, Todd Rundgren's career has produced a diverse range of recordings as solo artist, and during the seventies and eighties with the band Utopia. He has also been prolific as a producer and engineer on the recorded work of other musicians.
His best-known songs include "Hello It's Me" and "I Saw the Light" which have heavy rotation on classic rock radio stations, and "Bang the Drum All Day" featured in many sports arenas, commercials, and movie trailers.
Rundgren was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He began his career in Woody's Truck Stop, a Philadelphia-based group based on the model of Paul Butterfield Blues Band. However, Rundgren and bassist Carson Van Osten left the band to form the garage rock group Nazz in 1967 with Thom Mooney (drums) and Robert "Stewkey" Antoni (vocals and keyboards). The group gained minor recognition with the Rundgren-penned songs "Open My Eyes" and "Hello It's Me."
Nazz released three albums during this time - Nazz, Nazz Nazz, and Nazz III. Rundgren and Van Osten left the band shortly after.
Particularly during the early years of his career, Rundgren's songwriting was heavily influenced by the music of singer-songwriter Laura Nyro. Rundgren's debut solo album Runt,released in 1970, includes the strongly Nyro-influenced "Baby Let’s Swing," which was written about her and mentions her by name.
After leaving the Nazz in 1969, Rundgren relocated temporarily to New York and began working as a producer for other groups. He became one of the first artists signed to the Bearsville Records label established by Albert Grossman, and in 1970 he formed the 'band' Runt, consisting of himself, Hunt Sales on drums, and his brother Tony Sales on bass (the Sales brothers are the sons of US comedian Soupy Sales and went on to play with Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Tin Machine). Rundgren himself wrote, produced, sang and played guitars, keyboards and other instruments.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Rundgren engineered and/or produced many notable albums for other acts, including Straight Up by Badfinger, Stage Fright by The Band, We're an American Band by Grand Funk Railroad, Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf (now ranked as the fifth biggest-selling album of all time), and Skylarking by XTC. In the 1980s and 1990s his interest in video and computers led to Rundgren's "Time Heals" being the eighth video played on MTV, and "Change Myself" was generated on commercially available Amiga Computers.
In late 2005, rumors began circulating that the Boston-based band The Cars were planning to re-form despite bass player Benjamin Orr's death and the oft-mentioned refusal of former lead singer Ric Ocasek to even consider any reunion. Soon the rumors mentioned that Rundgren had joined Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes in rehearsals for a possible new Cars lineup. In early 2006, the new lineup played a few private shows for industry professionals, played live on The Tonight Show and made other media appearances before commencing a 2006 summer tour with the re-formed Blondie.
Rundgren has referred to the project as "an opportunity ... for me to pay my bills, play to a larger audience, work with musicians I know and like, and ideally have some fun for a year."
The New Cars' first single, "Not Tonight," was released on March 20, 2006. A live album/greatest hits collection, The New Cars: It's Alive, was released in June, 2006. The album includes classic Cars songs - and two Rundgren hits - recorded live plus three new studio tracks.