Earlier today (as I write this), I found myself greeted by a series of requests for me to write about the case for induction for Todd Rundgren, expressed with a sense of frustration and irritation that he had not been inducted yet. In doing my customary online research about his career, I was struck that the same man was responsible for two songs that I was very familiar with, the humorous “Bang On The Drums All Day,” which was a staple of my Friday morning commutes to work and school when I lived in the Tampa Bay area, as the song was a favorite with the morning deejays I listened to there, and the gentle and moving “Hello, It’s Me,” one of my favorite songs from the 1970’s. In addition to that, I was reminded that Todd Rundgren has been among the most important producers of the last half century, a power-pop producer responsible for giving us, among many more classic albums, one of the greatest albums of all time, Badfinger’s “Straight Up,” with its haunting tracks like “Day After Day,” “Baby Blue,” and “Name Of The Game.” So yes, I have to agree with my impatient readers that it is absolutely ridiculous that Todd Rundgren is not inducted at least once, if not twice, in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and that he is certainly well worth remembering as his songs have endured.
The Influence Of Todd Rundgren
An artist with a career as long and as productive as Todd Rundgren has several chains of influence, as might well be imagined. There is first the influence that comes from his own songs. As previously mentioned, songs like “Hello, It’s Me” and “Bang On The Drums All Day” are songs that have resonated with the larger culture far beyond their chart position, with “Hello, It’s Me” becoming part of the framework for That 70’s Show and “Bang On The Drums” being a lasting radio song to represent the desire for freedom from work at the end of the week. “Hello, It’s Me” was covered from Nazz first by Rundgren himself in his hit version, and then from artists as diverse as the Isley Brothers and Erykah Badu featuring Andre 3000 (of Outkast fame). A second chain of influence comes from the fact that Rundgren (like other noted RRHOF snubs Paul Carrack  and Joe Walsh  and Gerry Rafferty ) was known not only as a solo act but as a member of bands as well, in Rundgren’s case Nazz and Utopia. And aside from this, Rundgren has had seminal influence on music through his power pop production style that has made notable albums for acts as diverse as Badfinger, the Tubes, XTC, the Patti Smith Group, Hall & Oates, Meat Loaf (“Bat Out Of Hell”), Jim Steinman, Grand Funk Railroad, Hall & Oates, The Band, Cheap Trick, The New York Dolls, Shaun Cassidy, Paul Shaffer, and many, many more . Any one of these threads of influence would be enough for induction, together there is enough worth for two inductions.
Why Todd Rundgren Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
For one, Todd Rundgren belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a producer. It is hard to imagine very many producers who have as notable a track record as Todd Rundgren did where his work was regularly praised in album reviews even for albums that the reviewer did not happen to like. Albums produced by Rundgren have contained notable efforts like XTC’s “Dear God,” the Grand Funk Railroad’s cover of “The Locomotion” as well as their hits “We’re An American Band” and “Walk Like A Man,” Meat Loaf’s epic “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” and “Two Out Three Ain’t Bad,” the Psycadelic Furs’ “Love My Way,” and Badfinger’s “Day After Day,” “Name Of The Game,” and “Baby Blue.” Any producer would be happy to have produced any of these amazing songs. Rundgren produced all of them and hundreds of other songs on dozens of other albums as well. As a producer, Rundgren absolutely belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame even apart from any of his own efforts as a member of the Nazz and Utopia or his solo work. And it is that work which gives a second obvious case for induction, and that is the Award For Musical Excellence, given that he not only made great music himself but he also made other people better as a musician, through his singing as well as his guitar playing.
Why Todd Rundgren Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
I have no idea why Todd Rundgren hasn’t been inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at least once, and he should be inducted (as noted above) twice. It is possible that the nominating committee and voters are not aware of just how pivotal role the songs and production of Todd Rundgren have been since the 1960’s. It is possible that there is at least some disrespect of the power pop approach that Todd Rundgren adopted as a producer as well as a performer. It is also possible that the way that Rundgren’s production has often been for acts snubbed themselves by the RRHOF like Badfinger  and Meat Loaf  have hindered his own case for induction. Regardless of the reasons, none of them are good enough.
Verdict: Put him in already. Put him in twice. It’s been more than long enough already. The fact that he belongs most in the categories of Producer and Award For Musical Excellence means inducting him twice need not delay anyone else’s induction or require the support of RRHOF voters at large.