Devoted fans welcome Lundgren

Desmond Child, Meat Loaf and Todd Rundgren in New York. Photo: Stuart Ramson/AP/PA Photos,
Desmond Child, Meat Loaf and Todd Rundgren in New York. Photo: Stuart Ramson/AP/PA Photos,

At the ripe age of 64, Todd Rundgren has released his 24th studio album and is set to tour the UK this month. Andy Welch discovers why he might just have the most dedicated fans in music.

Todd Rundgren isn’t a name that trips off the tongue. It might ring a bell. You might even know his biggest hits, Seventies pop tunes Hello It’s Me and I Saw The Light.

Say his name to the right person of a certain age, however, and their eyes will light up.

He’s had that sort of career: not easy to keep track of, impossible to second guess and, in the case of some of his more experimental work, difficult to love.

Over five decades in the music business, the multi-talented instrumentalist, songwriter and producer has created the sort of music that inspires utter devotion, and that’s where he comes into his own.

“I’m not fooling anyone and I never have,” says Philadelphia-born Rundgren, adding he can’t remember the last time he completed a tour without an audience member walking out after an hour, or demanding a refund because he hadn’t played Hello It’s Me, inside the first 60 minutes of the performance.

He’s not bitter about the walkouts - he considers them the unfortunate result of such a varied career. He’s laughing while telling the story, and he wishes those seeking a greatest hits show all the very best.

“I do hope they’ve learned their lesson and never come to another show of mine ever again, though,” he says.

“I wish promoters would be less vague with the show they’re selling. I suppose they go for what they think they can sell off my name, rather than advertising what the show actually is.

“The upshot of all this is that the audiences at my shows are survivors; a unique group of people who have been frequently tested over the years.”