Patti Smith Inducts Todd Rundgren Into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
"He was unflinching in the face of new technology. He would just bend it in his hands," said Smith, whose fourth album Wave was produced by Rundgren. "He would tell the band, 'If you know what you want, I will help you. If you don't know what you want, I'll do it for you.'"
She spoke via a deeply personal pre-taped interview; others who worked with Rundgren, including Daryl Hall, also recorded messages. "So many musicians are fucking boring," said Hall, who worked with Rundgren on Hall and Oates' 1974 LP War Babies. "You never know what Todd's going to do."
Rundgren began his career with the garage/psych-rock band Nazz, who recorded the first version of his future hit “Hello It’s Me” on their self-titled 1968 debut. But Rundgren went solo in the following decade, maintaining a prolific pace and eclectic style: Under his own name and with his band Utopia, he branched out from art-rock to and soft-rock to techno and prog.
He also became an in-demand producer, working on now-classic LPs like Grand Funk Railroad's We're an American Band, the New York Dolls' self-titled project, the Psychedelic Furs (1982's Forever Now) and, famously, Meat Loaf's blockbuster Bat Out of Hell.
Smith remembered that their only rule in the studio was "No grown ups allowed." "He's ever curious, ever youthful, ever defiant," Smith said tonight. "He has been our alchemist, our wizard, our true star."
Rundgren was on the Rock Hall ballot for a third straight year, though he’d been eligible since 1993. He did not attend the Rock Hall ceremony due to his ongoing tour, but he's long been a critic of the entire process. His induction film included archival footage with a cutting comment from Rundgen: "If I was nominated, I wouldn't run," he said. "If I was elected, I would not serve."
Rundgren admitted in a September interview with UCR, however, that the ceremony was a “celebration” for fans, if not as much for him. "They’re the ones who wanted it," he said. "And now they’ve got it.”
The 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will air on Nov. 20 on HBO alongside a radio simulcast on SiriusXM Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Radio.
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