Todd Rundgren has been an individualist for most of his career, and that's not going to change even though his long-overdue induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is finally taking place this weekend. Rundgren will be in Ohio Saturday, but will be performing in Cincinnati instead of Cleveland, where the Rock Hall is located. In a new interview with TMZ, Rundgren said he doesn't think the HAll of Fame idea works for musicians in the way it does for sports stars, whose greatness can be calculated with stats.
"You're retired from the game, all of your stats are there for everybody to judge, and they can measure you against other players in real terms - and not in subjective terms - and you're done with your career," Rundgren told TMZ. For musicians, the goal is to perform for the rest of your life, he said.
Rundgren's road to the Rock Hall has been long. After scoring mainstream hits like "Hello It's Me" and "I Saw The Light" in the early 1970s, Rundgren began focusing on less-commercial music. Although he didn't earn many hits, he continued to be held in high regard by music lovers, and produced several important albums, including Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell and the New York Dolls' first album. He is now on the road performing the entirety of his influential 1973 album A Wizard, A True Star. Despite his importance for many musicians, Rundgren wasn't included on the Rock Hall ballot until 2019, over 25 years after he was eligible.
When Rundgren was first included in 2019, he placed third in the fan vote, but he still wasn't included in the induction class that year. There were some acts that placed lower than he did but were still inducted, Rundgren told TMZ. "The fans have practically no power to influence who gets into the hall," he said, later adding that he hates the competitive nature of the hall. "I'm not into the whole sense that there's some sort of competition between musicians to get into it,' he said. "I kind of abhor that idea that musicians are meant to compete with each other."
In February, Rundgren called the fan poll a "scam" in a Billboard interview. "They run this scam called the fan pool...but most fans don't realize that their votes count for absolutely nothing," he said at the time. He also felt fans were "duped" into thinking their votes mattered as much as the judges who really decide who gets in.
Of course, Rundgren isn't the first artist to skip out on their Rock Hall induction. Axl Rose did that when Guns N' Roses was inducted. Although Rose later regretted the decision, Rundgren told the News-Herald he doesn't think that will happen. "I can't think of what the regret would be about," he said. "They say, 'Go - you can at least hang out with the other musicians.' Well, I've met them all already."
The 2021 Rock Hall class also includes Foo Fighters, The Go-Go's, Jay-Z, Carole King, and Tina Turner. The ceremony is held at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland. The show will later be available on HBO and HBO Max, and will radio simulcast on SiriusXM's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Radio and Volume channels. Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, Lionel Richie, Drew Barrymore, Mickey Guyton, Bryan Adams, Christina Aguilera, and Angela Bassett will make appearances.