Saturday, August 23, 2008

Todd Rundgren says "I've got a gun."

With the new Arena album along the way at the end of September, don't be surprised if Todd Rundgren's latest platter sparks a little gun control controversy.

On the surface, one of the songs on the new album, 'Gun', communicates social commentary about American gang gun culture; a plea for disaffected youths to put a stop pulling out guns and randomly shooting people.

In America, illegal gun ownership has now become a lifestyle enhancer, something to add credibility and importance in society. In the song 'Gun', Rundgren sings: "This is for fighting and this is for fun."

But if you go back 28 years, the issue of guns took on a larger than life meaning for Rundgren enthusiasts.

On December 8 1980, Mark Chapman (the guy who went on to shoot John Lennon), was a big fan of Rundgren's music.

He woke up in the Sheraton hotel in New York City. After getting dressed, he placed a copy of Rundgren's second solo album, 'The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren', on the dressing table. Next to it he left a photo of himself from when he worked at a Vietnamese refugee camp. He finished this tableau with the hotel Bible, which he had opened to John's Gospel and written the word 'Lennon'.

Chapman was a devoted follower of Todd Rundgren's music. He learned the lyrics and studied the album sleeves for clues and was obsessed with Rundgren's 1973 album 'A Wizard, A True Star'. He was convinced that Rundgren was sending signals to him.

It was then that an interview with Rundgren that was published in Melody Maker by journalist Allan Jones that really struck a chord. During the interview, Rundgren referred to John Lennon as an "asshole"; a comment that Todd made abut John Lennon's behaviour when Lennon was drunk and verbally abusing a waitress at the now legendary Max's Kansas City nightclub in New York City.

The Melody Maker interview also touched on Rundgren's song 'Rock And Roll Pussy', which was thought to have been a critique of Lennon's revolutionary stance. When John Lennon read Rundgren's interview in Melody Maker, he wrote an open letter to the music paper, where he commented:

"I guess we're all looking for attention Rodd, do you really think I don't know how to get it, without "revolution"?"

History has it that Lennon's letter to Rundgren had some kind of emotional impact on Mark Chapman. Just after 10:40pm, on the evening of the 8th, Chapman confronted John Lennon outside the Dakota hotel in New York City and shot him four times.

At the time of Lennon's shooting, Mark Chapman was wearing a Todd Rundgren 'Hermit of Mink Hollow' t-shirt.