The following year, in 1967, he wrote his first song, "Hello, It's Me," about the experience. According to The Wall Street Journal, Rundgren first recorded the song as a slow ballad with his band Nazz in 1968. Then, in 1971, he recorded a more upbeat version of the song for his solo album "Something/Anything?" In 1973, the song became Rundgren's biggest solo hit, charting for 20 weeks.
He later recalled how, 30 years after the heartbreak, his ex-girlfriend called him, but he kept his tone "businesslike." "Our lives had gone in two different directions and we really had nothing to say to each other," he said. "I think I also wanted to hold onto the image I had of her in high school. I never told her she was the inspiration for the song."
Carol King Comparison
Todd Rundgren recorded his album "Something/Anything?" in 1971, just months after Carole King released her best-selling album "Tapestry." "People started referring to me as the male Carole King, and I was a Carole King fan but it bothered me, being compared to somebody else," Rundgren recalled during his 2017 commencement address for the Berklee College of Music. "You don't want to be compared to other people, you want other people being compared to you."
In a way, the comparisons turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as they pushed Rundgren in a more original direction with his music. "I was writing like a hypocrite," he said, "and so I made this crazy record called 'A Wizard, A True Star,' on which I threw out all the rules of record-making and decided that I would try to imprint, as much as possible, the chaos in my head right onto a record without trying to clean it up for everyone else's benefit. The result was, as I mentioned, a complete loss of about half of my audience at that time."
While the change in direction was not successful from a commercial or critical standpoint, Rundgren saw it as a personal victory: "I have a special pride for what essentially was my act of tyranny after having achieved commercial success, and this became the model for my life after that."
In addition to comparisons to other artists, a key factor in Todd Rundgren's change of sonic direction was his discovery of hallucinogenic drugs. "I've taken a whole lot of psychedelics in my life," he told The San Francisco Chronicle in 2017. "I do it whenever I feel like I'm at some sort of plateau or my progress seems to have slowed and I need to shake myself up or see things in a different way. It was never about how high I could get. It was about getting to a place where I could open my mind."
According to Paul Myers' 2010 biography "A Wizard, A True Star: Todd Rundgren in the Studio," Rundgren's first hallucinogenic experience was with DMT, or dimethyltryptamine, which he thought "tasted like melted plastic bags." Even so, the experience led him to other psychedelics. "I soon became fascinated with the whole idea of psychedelic drugs and started doing mescaline, psilocybin, mushrooms, and things like that. I never took acid, to my knowledge, but I imagine it would have been similar to some of the other experiences I'd had."
Rundgren applied these experiences during the making of "A Wizard, A True Star." "I became more aware," he told Myers, "of what music and sound were like in my internal environment, and how different that was from the music I had been making. My new challenge was to try to map, as directly as I could, the various kinds of chaotic musical elements in my head."
Eric Clapton's Psychedelic SG guitar, also known as the "Fool" guitar, has a special place in rock 'n' roll history. Clapton played the guitar in Cream, including on the albums "Disraeli Gears" and "Wheels of Fire, Goodbye." What truly embedded the axe in the eyes of rock 'n' roll fans was the paint job, which was the handiwork of Dutch design collective and onetime band the Fool. The resulting design depicted a winged sprite on a cloud, among stars and flames, and alongside a grassy, mountainous landscape.
According to Gibson, Todd Rundgren first admired Clapton's guitar on March 25, 1967, while Cream was playing at the RKO Theater. Shortly thereafter, Clapton left the guitar with George Harrison, who loaned it to fellow musician Jackie Lomax in 1968. In 1972, after bumping into Rundgren in Woodstock, Lomax sold the guitar — now a little worse for wear — to Rundgren for just $500, with the condition that Lomax had the option to buy it back. He never returned for the guitar. Rundgren repaired it and continued to play it as his primary guitar until the late '70s.
Then, in the 1980s, a Japanese fan gave Rundgren a handmade replica, which Rundgren told Vintage Guitar was "a bit better-sounding than the original." Rundgren sold the original guitar at a Sotheby's auction for $150,000 in 2000. Years later, the Fool was re-sold for half a million dollars.