|Origin||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|Past members||Todd Rundgren|
Carson Van Osten
Robert "Stewkey" Antoni
The Nazz was an American rock band formed in Philadelphia in 1967. They were founded by guitarist and principal songwriter Todd Rundgren and bassist Carson Van Osten. Drummer Thom Mooney and vocalist/keyboardist Robert "Stewkey" Antoni joined before their first concert, opening for the Doors in 1967. They are best known for their debut single "Open My Eyes" backed with "Hello It's Me".
Their name was derived from the Yardbirds' song "The Nazz Are Blue". Although the use of a definite article was intended, the band was credited simply as "Nazz" on their records and promotional materials. Between 1968 and 1970, Nazz released three albums (Nazz, Nazz Nazz, and Nazz III). Following the group's disbandment in 1969, Rundgren pursued a solo career, and in 1972, recorded a new version of "Hello It's Me" that reached number 5 on the U.S. charts.
Name and formation
The Nazz were formed in Philadelphia in 1967. Some sources[who?] say the band took its name from the Yardbirds' 1966 song "The Nazz Are Blue", other sources[who?] say the name came from a 1952 monologue, "The Nazz", by the American Beatnik comedian Lord Buckley, and other sources[who?] say that both "The Nazz Are Blue" and Rundgren's band are named after Lord Buckley's monologue.
The band's name on all records and press materials is simply "Nazz", without the definite article. However, the group referred to themselves as "the Nazz". Rundgren stated that "We were formed in the late sixties, so most every band was the something. It was always 'the This' or 'the That,' so we were looking for something kind of simple and iconographic, I guess." In their song "Loosen Up", they introduce themselves as "the Nazz, from Philadelphia."
In Phoenix, Arizona, another band called Nazz was formed at about the same time that Nazz was formed in Philadelphia. This group released only one single before moving to Los Angeles and renaming themselves Alice Cooper.
Nazz and "Open My Eyes"
Nazz Nazz and Nazz III
After a brief trip to England in October 1968, cut short by visa problems, Nazz recorded their second album, originally entitled Fungo Bat, in Los Angeles in late 1968 and early 1969. (A fungo bat is a special baseball bat used only for practice; it is not intended to hit pitched balls.) The album was originally intended as a double album but was shortened to a single LP before being released as Nazz Nazz in May 1969. Much of what was cut was experimental, piano-based Rundgren material, heavily influenced by singer/songwriter Laura Nyro - a far cry from the group's original Beatles-Who-Yardbirds-Cream derived sound. Disillusioned, Rundgren departed the group, along with Van Osten, soon after.
Solo careers and legacy
Rundgren had a successful career as a solo artist and with the band Utopia. His biggest solo hit was an up-tempo version of "Hello It's Me", from his 1972 Something/Anything? album, which peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 on 22 December 1973. Carson had a successful career at Disney, living in Southern California with his family. Stewkey and Mooney reconnected and played with Fuse for a brief period using two monikers, Fuse or Nazz, depending on where they were gigging. Mooney would leave again, and Fuse evolved into "Sick Man of Europe", and later (without Stewkey) Cheap Trick.
The Nazz proved influential on the emerging genre dubbed power pop. They gained wider recognition thanks to the inclusion of "Open My Eyes" on Nuggets (1972), an anthology of American 1960s garage punk and psychedelia compiled by musician Lenny Kaye. The three Nazz LPs were reissued by Rhino Records on LP in 1983 and subsequently on CD with bonus demo and outtake tracks. In 2009, Spectra Records released three albums by Nazz. They were Nazz vs. Toddzila, 13th and Pine, (compilation) and Hello It's Crazy Me. In 2011, the Bangles recorded "Open My Eyes" on their album, Sweetheart of the Sun.
In popular culture
- Nazz is featured on the soundtrack of The Mad Room, a 1969 horror movie directed by Bernard Girard.
- Todd Rundgren - guitar
- Carson Van Osten - bass guitar
- Robert "Stewkey" Antoni - vocals, keyboards
- Thom Mooney - drums
|1984||Best of Nazz|
|1998||Thirteenth and Pine
|2002||Open Our Eyes: The Anthology
|2006||Nazz Nazz - Including Nazz III - The Fungo Bat Sessions
|US Billboard Hot 100||CA RPM Charts|
|1968||"Open My Eyes"||112||–||Nazz|
|1969||"Hello It's Me"||66||39|
|"Not Wrong Long"||–||90||Nazz Nazz|
|"Some People"||–||–||Nazz III|
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