Fans of musician Todd Rundgren have probably heard plenty of stories about his rock n’ roll lifestyle but even the most die-hards don’t know it all. That’s one of the reasons that the 70-year-old Rundgren decided to write his memoir and get his side of the stories out.
“It wasn’t a decision to do it as much as a decision to finish it as I started writing it in the ‘90s,” he said. “After I got into a couple of chapters, it reminded me of school and homework, and my memories of that time are so negative; it made it hard for me to write, so I slacked off for 20 years. As I was approaching my 70th birthday, I realized if I don’t do it, someone else will and I would not enjoy someone else’s take of my life, so I forced myself to finish.”
His new autobiography, “The Individualist: Digressions, Dreams and Dissertations,” details his musical journey through photos and stories and includes his brush with such music luminaries as Janis Joplin, Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Patti Smith and Meat Loaf.
“I’m not a nostalgia artist, but when you put out a story that’s about the first 50 years of your life, you really need to focus on that musically,” Rundgren said. “The last 20 years aren’t covered, as it would be a totally different book. My life has been so different since I got married and started focusing on family issues.”
Rundgren started in the music biz fronting the ‘60s psychedelic group, The Nazz, and left in 1969 to release a solo album—the well-received “Runt.” He followed that up with a masterpiece in “Something/Anything?” in 1972, an album where he played all the instruments, sang all the vocals and produced it himself.
With hits like “Hello, it’s Me,” “I Saw the Light” and the immensely popular and arena-staple “Bang the Drum All Day,” Rundgren is often named among the top rock musicians of all-time.
On April 13, Rundgren will come to the State Theatre for a hybrid concert and book tour that features music from throughout his 50-year career as well as stories from “The Individualist: Digressions, Dreams and Dissertations.”
“You make your living playing live today, you don’t make much selling useless artifacts, but I didn’t have any new music to promote, but I had this book, so figured I would make the tour more about the book,” Rundgren said. “It’s all about me—way more than you would find in a usual show.”
That means there will be plenty of photographs and other archival material presented during the night, videos of Rundgren’s outfits through the career, and plenty of fun things that people wouldn’t expect.
“The show is peppered with all bits of information about my career,” Rundgren said. “We do a Q&A in the middle of the show like you might do on a book tour. The questions haven’t all been about the book, but more about other things, people knew about me, that were happening.”
The State Theatre performance will feature two sets of music with an intermission in between. The first set is chocked full of familiar material and hits and lasts about 75 minutes, and the second half is more the deep cuts and fan favorites.
“We played our first show in Amsterdam and the audience response was very positive, which made us feel better because when you have a new concept, you don’t know how it’s going to work, but things went really good,” Rundgren said. “The second set will be different every night, while the first will be more focused on the area where a lot of those in the audience became fans.”
Rundgren was not unfamiliar with speaking gigs, as he’s done talkbacks at colleges and commencements over the years, but he’s upped his storytelling for this tour and enjoys telling some tales in between the playing of songs.
“One thing I can say with assurance, without trying to sound egotistical, is my voice is as good as it’s ever been,” he said. “My voice will last till the end, and that’s something that you couldn’t always say about my concerts.”