Published in December, 2018
Todd Rundgren. One name says it all. Once nicknamed “The Hermit of Mink Hollow,” the Philadelphia musician has been a name known for over 40 years in progressive rock, jazz fusion and straight up rhythm and blues. Often regarded as one of the early founders of “bedroom” rock, Todd’s catalog from Utopia, Nazz to his solo career has been one interesting journey. I myself have been a longtime fan of him ever since I heard “Something/Anything” blasting from the radio speakers in my tiny New York City apartment. Rundgren’s book, The Individualist shows great independence or individuality in reflection or conception. This latest memoir is a true rock opera that takes readers on a voyage.
The Individualist is unique to most rock memoirs. Rundgren’s account of events from his early years as a music producer, like an encounter with Janis Joplin, to the very personal account of raising Liv Tyler as his own child is compelling yet honest. The memoir is formatted as one page chapters; these vignettes include brief stories like that of his work with the New York Dolls, Badfinger, and Ringo Starr which keep you, the reader, craving more. The memoir is an excellent read for any fan. He writes in the way that he speaks, eloquent and smooth; it often feels like a good friend is talking to you. While I was reading, I thought to myself, “Who knew Todd was a fan of Pee Wee Herman? Strange!” But as a fan of music that spans many generations and time periods myself, I can relate to him.
The Individualist pays homage to Todd Rundgren’s career, life experiences and even his personal disdain towards the current mainstream music industry. After I heard that Rundgren hadn’t made it into this year’s class of 2019 Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductees, part of me felt heartbroken. This man has contributed so much to music from introducing harmonic distortion, to remixing Tame Impala’s “Elephant” with whimsical lyrics. I mean, the guy played all the instruments, sang all the vocal parts and acted as his own producer? Strong kudos!
Earlier this month, I had the great pleasure of meeting this legendary musician Todd Rundgren at Rough Trade, an independent owned record store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. His book tour will run from April 1 to May 23.
Reviewer Sacha Fleming is an FM certified DJ as well as the current Traffic Manager at WFNP. Catch her music show, “The Ramblin Rose Show” ever Tuesday from 8-10 pm!