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Justin Hawkins on Todd Rundgren

Todd Rundgren
(Image credit: Gijsbert Hanekroot / Getty Images)

“The first record I bought of his was his 1972 double-album Something/Anything?, which Axl Rose once said was his favourite album of all time. I used to cover one of the songs on side four – Dust In The Wind – when I was in Hot Leg. It sounds as though a lot of studio trickery was used on the first three sides to achieve the sound of several people when it was actually just him, and the last side featured Todd and a band. I like the way that on the track Wolfman Jack he speeds his voice up to sound like female backing singers.

“I’ve bought everything I can find on him since, right up to 2004’s Liars, one of his more recent ones. I’ve even started buying his DVDs, especially of Utopia because I was told pyramids were involved [circa 1977’s Ra] and they might provide The Darkness with some ideas.

“You’ve also got to respect the way he followed the gold-selling Something/Anything? with an hour-long record of stream-of-consciousness tunes and sounds. He’s the kind of artist who will make those sorts of radical departures. He went from piano ballads to freak-out prog in three years. Amazing.

“He’s huge in America – it’s hard to go a day on public transport there without hearing loads of his songs. He’s really influential as well, without people realising.

“Not many artists are as wildly eclectic as Todd. Is he prog? If prog means abandoning convention, being challenging and deliberately difficult, then yes, he is. He’s also one of my guitar heroes. And a synth pioneer.

“I’ve never met him, but I know people who have. I won’t say who because then you’ll ask what he was like! But then, you want him to be arsey, difficult and hard to understand. Nothing important was ever achieved by being nice. You want Todd to have optimum ego power. He’s got mystique, he’s misunderstood – he’s definitely a hero.”