"Hello It's Me"
Tod Rundgren performs his hit single on The Midnight Special
The news comes before dawn about the passing of B.B. King, making it next to impossible to keep focused on the actual subject of this week’s column. An internet search turns up random scraps of layers of influence, however ancillary, that the great man had on Todd Rundgren’s career. “My idols,” he once told a reporter, “are players like Tony Bennett and B.B. King. They still have an audience and they can do it forever, and to me that’s what being a musician truly is — somebody that does it for their entire life pretty much on their own terms.”
Rundgren admits to playing in a blues band after high school and right up to his first band, the Nazz. He knew the venerable bluesman Robert Johnson’s music inside and out to the extent that later in life, he would record Todd Rundgren’s Johnson, an album of Johnson covers. But he says that it wasn’t really Johnson who influenced him. “I was listening to the guitar players who were listening to him,” Rundgren told another interviewer. Along with the usual names of white blues guitarists from the UK, he noted a little B.B. King love as well.
- Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 8 p.m.
Belly Up Tavern,
143 S. Cedros Avenue,
“Hello, it’s me.” Rundgren will likely be remembered for those words more than any other moment in his long career. They are lifted from one of the hit singles released during his Nazz days but also included on 1972’s gold-certified Something/Anything, a double-disc set that he claimed was crafted with the aid of copious amounts of weed and on which he played the instruments and did the singing on most of the tracks. Rolling Stone magazine called it one of their 500 greatest albums of all time. To this day Rundgren defies accurate description as an artist, but at the age of 67, he still sells out venues. How’s that for having a life on one’s own terms?