While the month is supposed to bring the joy of the holidays, the early part of December always leaves fans of The Beatles feeling solemn. It was on December 8 that band co-founder John Lennon was murdered in New York in 1980.
When investigators searched the hotel room of Mark David Chapman after the assassination of Lennon, they found only one record album. While everyone figured it would be Imagine or Double Fantasy or one of the many famous discs by The Beatles, it turned out to be a release by Todd Rundgren.
Even though he had a number five hit with “Hello It’s Me” along with others like “I Saw the Light” and “Can We Still Be Friends”, Rundgren was an unlikely artist to be followed by a disturbed fan of The Beatles. Nevertheless, Rundgren has had quite a remarkable and unique career, as well as a direct connection to the Fab Four.
A decade before the assassination of Lennon, Rundgren worked in Great Britain as one of the first producers at the new Apple Studio of The Beatles. He made Straight Up by the British band Badfinger, who featured George Harrison on the album.
The previous year Rundgren had served as recording engineer for a group closely associated with the most influential artist America, Bob Dylan. In that role Rundgren helped make Stage Fright one of the most enduring albums by the Band, which contained two big hits in “The Shape I’m In” and the title track.
He continued to work as an esteemed producer over the years, mastering classic albums in several different genres. Rundgren oversaw the production of the debut album by the New York Dolls, a controversial punk rock band fronted by David Johansen.
Among his other projects have been the Skylarking album by a, ternative band XTC, and We’re An American Band by the rock ensemble Grand Funk. Rundgren also was instrumental in launching the career of fellow Philadelphians Darryl Hall and John Oates, the most successful duo in the history of rock music.
He continued to be innovative even beyond the decade of the Seventies, creating artistic videos in the early days of MTV. In fact, Rundgren’s Salvador Dali-inspired “Time Heals” became the eighth video when MTV launched in 1981, airing in between “Brass In Pocket” by the Pretenders and REO Speedwagon’s “Take It On the Run.”
With all of that musical success, one would have assumed that his offspring would have pursued careers in that field as well. However, his son Rex Rundgren chose a completely different area for his profession, one involving bases rather than basses.
Rex enjoyed a career in baseball, being drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1999 and again in 2001 by the Florida Marlins. The infielder had much success in the minor leagues, advancing all the way to Triple A before leaving the game.