By Jeffrey A. Friedberg, News Man
May 15, 2017
Before my mother and father died of broken hearts, at the suicide of my musician brother, my father would often speak of “the old times.” These were days when my brother was still in Upper Darby High School, and playing piano or keyboards with “garage bands” and rock groups.
Drugs were not yet a major infringement on his life. He even had a beautiful girlfriend who was a classical musician and the daughter of an industrialist. He worked as a musician, and he always had money.
After my brother comitted suicide, due to drugs, and mental distress, My father would talk to me about those past, good times. One story of his was how Todd Rundgren would come to our house and “jam” with my brother. They had both been in Upper Darby High School at the same time and knew each other. My father always referred to Todd Rundgren, as, “Toddy.”
Kal Mann, and…
I’ve since wondered if Todd ever met Kal Mann, who also came to our house many times. Kal had been a friend of my father’s from the ‘Hood, way back when.
Kal was co-founder of the powerful, influential Cameo-Parkway Records, in 1956. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kal_Mann He wrote smash hits of that era, including, Butterfly, Teddy Bear, Wah-Tusi, Lets Twist Again, Wild One, Limbo Rock, You Can’t Sit Down, The Bristol Stomp, and more. .
I don’t know if maybe he ever helped Todd Rundgren. But “everybody” in the Philly music scene seems to have known Kal Mann. He was a tough, practical, patriotic, principled, gentlemanly Jew from the ‘Hood, and many had turned to him for his guidance and fine principles.
I understood Kal Mann’s ethic.
But I don’t understand Todd Rungren. What is his ethic? I wonder if he ever met Kal Mann.
I never met Todd Rundgren. But I also went to Upper Darby High School, and was raised in Upper Darby.
Upper Darby was an extremely conservative township at the time, as was the high school. Most of us seemed to have been conservative in our upbringing and views.
“Good times?” Yes. Normal times, in a normal, small town of that lost golden era. It was almost like that movie, “Pleasantville.”
I tried to locate and contact Todd Rundgren several times, in order to ask him about my brother. Mr. Rundgren never answered any of my inquiries, and I guess he never actually received or saw them.
I’m writing this because I am puzzled why Todd Rundgren made his reported, recent remarks about Donald Trump. It’s a mystery to me.
Mr Rundgren, having grown up where I did, and attended school where I did—I would have thought he might be more conservative.
I’ve heard that Todd Rundgren was or is a creative genius and a rebel pioneer of musical innovation.
It’s said that some creative people are closer to their emotions than others. That they enter caves deep inside where only they can go.
Over the years, I did some research in trying to locate Todd Rundgren, in order to ask him about my brother. Here is a brief background on Mr. Rundren….
“Todd Rundgren net worth: Todd Rundgren is an American musician and producer who has a net worth of $12 million. Born in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, Todd Rundgren, began playing in garage rock and psychedelia bands in the 60s. He co-founded the group, Nazz, in the late 60s, and the band enjoyed a series of minor successes throughout the late 60s and early 70s. When he decided leave the band, the manager of Nazz invited him to sign with his management company as a solo artist, and he released his debut album, “Runt”, one year later, in 1970. He has since gone on to record multiple groundbreaking, and influential albums, and has produced successful tracks and albums for a range of artists, including, “Stage Fright” by The Band, “Bat Out of Hell”, by Meatloaf, and “Skylarking” by XTC. He continues to tour constantly, either as a solo artist, with his progressive rock group, Utopia, or with the touring theatrical show version of his album, “A Wizard, A True Star”.”
Today, I’m wondering—not how to reach Mr. Rundgren—but why is Todd Rundgren going on TV, and reportedly saying “controversial” things about Donald Trump?
Your own guess would be as good as any I might make.
In a genius and reported rebel, usual “rules” might not apply. Such people , it is said, hear and see things differently than others. There are said to be places inside them where nobody other than they can go. Mysteries.
And that’s fine.
I don’t know if it’s “good,” but it’s fine with me.
…I just wish “Toddy” maybe had received my messages and gotten back to me about my brother.
Like Todd Rundgren, he’s a mystery to me. A place I’m unable to enter.
An unknown cavern, where I can’t go.