Upper Darby’s Todd Rundgren plays the Philadelphia Folk Festival on Saturday.
RELATED: Nazz was a psychedelic and garage rock band from the 1960s. The band was formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1967 by Todd Rundgren (lead guitar) and Carson Van Osten (bass guitar). Thom Mooney (drums, formerly of the Munchkins), and Robert “Stewkey” Antoni (vocals, keyboards) joined before their first concert, opening for The Doors in 1967.
Nazz was marketed by their manager, Michael Freeman, as a teenybopper band along the lines of The Monkees. The group signed with SGC Records, releasing Nazz in October 1968. The album was not commercially successful and neither was the first single, “Open My Eyes” of which the flip side was “Hello It’s Me” (#41 Canada). “Open My Eyes” was the side SGC Records was promoting, but in Boston WMEX Music Director and DJ Ron Robin accidentally played the flip side. He was impressed and added it to the station’s playlist. Reaction was strong and “Hello It’s Me” became a number one hit at WMEX in 1968. Several weeks later it was on the playlist of Boston’s other Top 40 radio station WRKO and eventually at other stations across the country.
Nazz recorded their second album, originally entitled Fungo Bat, in Los Angeles in late 1968 and early 1969. (A fungo bat is a special baseball bat used only for practice; it is not intended to hit pitched balls.) The album was originally intended as a double album but was shortened to a single LP before being released as Nazz Nazz in May 1969. Much of what was cut was experimental, piano-based Rundgren material, heavily influenced by singer/songwriter Laura Nyro – a far cry from the group’s original Beatles–Who–Yardbirds–Cream derived sound. Disillusioned, Rundgren departed the group, along with Van Osten, soon after. Rundgren went on to have a successful career as a solo artist and with the band Utopia. Ironically, Rundgren’s biggest solo hit was an up-tempo version of Nazz’ first unsuccessful single, “Hello It’s Me” from his 1972 Something/Anything? album. MORE
PREVIOUSLY: Being Todd Rundgren
Little known, slower, trippier 1967 Nazz version of the song that would make Todd Rundgren a hit solo artist just a few years later.
KEVIN PARKER, TAME IMPALA: So we got back from tour one day, and Jay pulled this purpley weird looking record out of his bag that he got from some record shop in some place I don’t even know,” frontman Kevin Parker says. “And he was telling me about it as I was walking upstairs but I wasn’t really listening as I was kind of tired and jetlagged . . . something about the guy from the Nazz’s solo thing . . . Anyway a few minutes later I heard some kind of cosmic-ness going on downstairs, I resisted a few more minutes but the cosmic-ness continued so I pulled myself downstairs to see Jay with this look on his face like he’d just had his tits blown. Turns out he had indeed just has his tits blown. A few minutes later I had my tits blown too. The song was “International Feel” from the album A Wizard a True Star by Todd Rundgren. So from that day we were Todd Rundgren slaves. Fast forward like four years or something and Glen from our record label said he had agreed to do a remix of our new song “Elephant,” which make me go pretty batty. So that’s how that all happened. Enjoy!” MORE
PREVIOUSLY: Eight Miles High In The Land Down Under