Todd Rundgren: “I Could Have Been A Casualty Like Syd Barrett”

THOUGH HE HARDLY cleaned up Todd Rundgren has told MOJO he was lucky not to end up as one of rock’n’roll’s famous acid casualties following his LSD explorations in the 1970s. MOJO 259, with Paul Weller on the cover, available in the UK from Tuesday, April 28.

Inviting our writer Paul Lester to his Hawaiian home for a barbecue and a career-spanning interview in our latest issue (June 2015/ #259) – out now in the UK – the prog-pop genius retraces his journey, ending with his mindbending latest album, Runddans, made in collaboration with Norwegian dance producer Hans-Peter Lindstrøm and Emil Nikolaisen of droney psych-rockers Serena-Maneesh.

Yet Rundgren explains he could easily have burned out as he made 1973’s stream-of-consciousness rock masterpiece A Wizard, A True Star and double album Todd, released a year later.

“I could have become a Syd Barrett or Brian Wilson – an acid casualty – if I’d chosen to,” he explains. “If I’d allowed my fascination and fixation with the illusory nature of reality to completely take over.”

Instead, Rundgren quit synthetic drugs in 1973, though his alternative is unlikely to win the approval of any health officials.

“I was on mescaline for a month straight.”

Todd Rundgren

“I didn’t trust [synthetic drugs, but] I was still smoking pot all the time – I still do,” he says. “Then I got hold of a shoebox full of peyote buttons. I was on mescaline for a month straight. I’d take three [buttons] in the morning: I could regulate it, and get to the place to where I wanted to be, which was about six feet over everybody else! The idea was for me to be productive at the same time. So I’d be doing gigs, rehearsals, writing in the studio… I was completely functional the entire time.”

For how this “level of concentration and intensity” affected the rest of his career and output, get hold of the latest MOJO magazine. In the meantime, you can listen to his new album below...


PHOTO: Piper Ferguson