Alrighty then, avid blog readers, let’s lace-up the Nikes for yet another jog down memory lane … now forty-three years in the rear view mirror, the year is 1974, in a far-off land known as Pennsylvania.
My previous blog on the late Harry Chapin only tangentially mentioned the very-much-still-with-us ‘Wizard & True Star’ Todd Rundgren, so let’s elaborate on Todd and pick it up there….
As WKBO afternoon air personality John Saint John, I acted as host that fateful day for a Warner Brothers-Elektra-Atlantic label ‘meet & greet’ party we called the ‘3-Ring Circus’ as all of the state capital it seemed showed-up at the Harrisburg East Mall to welcome Todd Rundgren, Harry Chapin, and the group Cactus!
While it’s not totally visible in the above picture of Todd & Harry, Todd Rundgren was sporting quite the ‘do that day – he had his hair dyed … in four different colors & shades! Four separate quadrants – black, blonde, orange … and green! Really.
But all the snickers, jokes, and good-natured ribbing – to say nothing of jealousies – that day were reserved for Todd’s love life, as Harry and the Cactus gang just would not leave him alone about his babe Bebe Buell! Do yourself a favor and ‘google’ this girl.
At this point in time, Todd was hot ‘n heavy with the ultimate groupie of all rock history! Bebe was not only Hugh Hefner’s pick for the November Playboy mag playmate that year, she also went on to the bed of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, and is, in fact, the mother of Hollywood actress Liv Tyler! I kid you not.
Broke poor Todd’s heart is what she did.
But in 1974 – as the whole gang that day teased him endlessly about and would not leave him alone about – Bebe was all Todd’s.
But, hey, women may come, and women may go … so, what else is new? The remarkable thing about Todd Rundgren was and IS his blazing and amazing talents – on both sides of the glass.
Todd would write every song, play every instrument, sing every vocal track, produce the entire album top to bottom – and it was ALL HIM! He was the talent, the producer & the engineer. Damn!
Every time you hear “Hello, it’s Me”, “I Saw the Light”, or “We Got to Get You a Woman” on classic rock radio, or sing along to the anthem “Bang the Drum All Day” at a sporting event – that’s Todd!
As producer and engineer, Todd also steered the careers of Meatloaf, Grand Funk Railroad, Badfinger & countless others … while Saturday mornings, his contributions to Paul Reuben’s ‘Pee Wee’s Playhouse’ are legendary. To detail all his input and impact on 20th century music would make this blog impossibly long.
The cutesy story of that amazing day in Harrisburg with Todd just has to be this one he gave me – the one about school desks at Upper Darby High School in Philadelphia still today carrying his rather unique and imaginative doodles and carvings.
As that little Pennsylvania boy just daydreamed his life away… as if!
Today, happily married to Michele with Upper Darby High School and Pennsylvania well in his rear view mirror, and living large on the island of Hawaii, Todd continues to mystify and amaze his planet-wide army of fans with tunes that stand the test of time.
“Aloha, it’s me!”
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4 thoughts on “Airlift Mike Mixes It Up With Todd Rundgren”
I found you through a search for WKBO, and I remember you from your time in Harrisburg. At that time WKBO was the only station any self-respecting teen would listen to.
One comment on the picture of the WKBO staff pic above. F Adams, aka Freddie Adams, worked for a local country music station after his stint at WKBO. When he got tired of the fickle world of radio he left and became a telecommunications repairman at a well known company in Hershey where I worked with him. He retired a few years ago and as far as I know he is still in the area (I run into him every few years).
I also found 2 old WKBO bumper stickers in a box of stuff. I am hoping they will be visible to any viewers of this site by clicking on my website link.
Hiya, Matt — Always great to hear from an all-grown-up Pa. ‘self-respecting’ teen. No doubt, WKBO was the sh*t before the days of digital, Spotify, and mp3s. And I was proud to be the dude delivering the goods every afternoon for the state capitol. Weekend jock Fred Adams was a good friend through those years and I appreciate the update. While I miss the rolling hills of my home state of Pa. I certainly don’t miss the winters, snow shovels, snow tires…
Warm Regards from N’awlins and the artist formerly known as John Saint John ~ Airlift Mike down in dixie
I remember Chapin and Rundgren were at the Hbg East Mall for a joint promo for their albums in 74. Both guys were gracious and it was a good event WKBO sponsored.
Hope you are well my friend!
Yeah, that was indeed some day. And some radio station, John. I also find it hard to believe it took all these years for Todd to get inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame! Unreal. As for me? Still loving life and staying PROductive here in NOLA. All the best to you and yours in PA. Be well.