weather icon Partly Cloudy

‘White Album’ not Todd Rundgren’s favorite, but he’ll play it anyway

Updated December 5, 2019 - 5:41 pm

Todd Rundgren boasts a bond to the Beatles, having performed with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band for 5½ years. A rock icon himself, Rundgren understands the band’s history and certainly appreciates its vast collection of classic songs.

And he’s not much of fan of “The White Album.”

“It’s not my favorite album in the Beatles’ canon. It might be my least-favorite album in the Beatles’ canon,” Rundgren said in a recent phone chat. “The record is actually the sound of the band breaking up. If you were a big Beatles’ fan at the time, it was potentially horrifying (laughs). Not many of the songs came off as the band working together. Some of the songs seem like a couple of the guys had their foot halfway out the door when they were making it.”

But Rundgren is playing and singing from that album in Las Vegas this weekend. Set for 8 p.m. Saturday at Westgate Las Vegas’ International Theater, “It Was Fifty Years Ago Today — A Tribute to the Beatles’ White Album” features Rundgren along with Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, Christopher Cross, Jason Scheff of Chicago and Joey Molland of Badfinger. (Tickets are onsale at the Westgate Las Vegas website.)

The show’s musical director, Joey Curatolo, is also MD of the long-running Beatles tribute act Rain.

Rundgren continues his assessment of “The Beatles” double album.

“The album sounds a lot like the beginning of some particular Beatles solo albums,” said the multi-instrumentalist and songwriting great. “A lot of it seems like individual indulgences, but if somebody listens to it and doesn’t sense that — those are probably people who will come to see this show, those who have some sort of a rosy attitude about the record.”

Beatles fans readily realize, too, that “The White Album” was actually released in 1968, 51 years ago, outside the 50th-anniversary celebration.

“It became 51 years because sometimes it’s difficult to get everyone clear of other obligations to put this together,” Rundgren said. “When we started this process, it might have happened 50 years ago, but it took a year to get everybody free to do this.”

Rundgren has not talked with his old friend and collaborator Starr about performing this show.

“I have spent a lot of time around Ringo as part of the All-Starr Band, and because he was a Beatle, I think he gets kind of sick of talking about it sometimes,” Rundgren said. “He recognizes how important it is to everyone else, but he has lived through it and has to talk about it anytime he talks to the press … when you try to pump him for information about it, unless he’s already in the mood to talk about the old days, he’s pretty much tried to move on.”

Rundgren is highlighted on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” which he has covered for years, and also “Helter Skelter” in the touring production.

“Nobody really wants to do ‘Helter Skelter’ because it’s just a scream-fest through the whole thing,” Rundgren said. “But I, for some weird reason, have no problem with that (laughs).” He’s also singing, “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill,” “Sexy Sadie” and “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide (Except Me and My Monkey).”

The show’s individual members sing samples of their own hit songs to fill out the performance. Rundgren, with such top-10 Billboard hits as “Hello, It’s Me” and “I Saw the Light” is among the list of nominees for the 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Rundgren is not a big fan of the Rock hall, either. He laughed and said, “No comment! Again, no comment!” when asked about his nomination.

But Rundgren did offer, “My feelings about it are so incredibly mixed it’s too complicated to even get into. But you know, my recommendation for anyone for who has a ballot that isn’t filled out is T.Rex, Thin Lizzy, Motorhead and MC-5. That’s rock and roll.”

During “The White Album” series, Rundgren has gotten to know Dolenz, the famed drummer for The Monkees.

“This kind of tour gives you an opportunity to work with people you wouldn’t work with under normal circumstances, and me and Micky like to have a late-night meal together,” Rundgren said. “We had a meal where we had to explain American football to a guy from Poland, who was sitting at the bar with us. It was fun, actually.”

Rundgren says the conversation was “a signature moment for us,” because that conversation took place in Cincinnati on Dec. 1, the the same weekend the Bengals won their first game of the season after 11 losses.

“We were lucky enough to be on stage after that,” Rundgren said. “I had something to talk about with the audience.”

Similar to this rock show, that event was a true team effort.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Making lobster and avocado flatbread at Vanderpump Cocktail Garden in Las Vegas
Josh Grimes, chef de cuisine at Vanderpump Cocktail Garden at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, created a lobster and avocado flatbread that also has avocado-creme fraiche spread, yellow tomatoes, red onion and Hearts On Fire microgreens. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Riding the new 15-minute "Star Wars" ride at Disneyland
What it's like to ride the new 15-minute "Star Wars" ride At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Main St. Provisions is coming to the Arts District - VIDEO
Kim Owens talks about her new Arts District restaurant, Main Street Provisions, which is under construction. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Artist Wayne Littlejohn on “Spin Baby” - VIDEO
Wayne Littlejohn’s sculpture celebrates Las Vegas entertainers. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tiësto headlines CES 2020 closing party at Hakkasan Nightclub - VIDEO
Tiesto performs for CES conventioneers and clubgoers during the DreamlandXR Closing Night Party at Hakkasan Nightclub at the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas Strip in the early hours of Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Locals cheer on James Holzhauer at 'Jeopardy!' watch party - VIDEO
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But James Holzhauer would have a better chance at winning “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time” tournament if Ken Jennings would stop copying his aggressive betting strategy. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drake's first show of 2020 at XS Nightclub in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Drake performs at the indoor/outdoor XS and Encore Beach Club at Wynn Las Vegas on the Las Vegas Strip in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Ceremony held for Elvis artist Trent Carlini - VIDEO
A ceremony was held for Elvis impersonator Trent Carlini on Wednesday night at The Space in Las Vegas. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Small appliances unveiled in Las Vegas - VIDEO
The small appliances on show at Sands Expo at CES 2020 in Las Vegas include a Keurig cocktail maker, autonomous cooking system, nitrogen coffee ampules and more. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Impossible Foods debuts Impossible Pork in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Before a packed press conference at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Impossible Foods executives introduced Impossible Pork, its newest product. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lady Gaga joins her band leader at his after-hours show - VIDEO
After finishing her “Jazz + Piano” show at Park Theater, Lady Gaga joined her band leader Brian Newman for a rousing version of "Fly Me to the Moon" during his show at NoMad Restaurant at Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip after midnight on New Year's Day, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Brian Newman rings in 2020 at NoMad at Park MGM - VIDEO
Brian Newman, bandleader for Lady Gaga, performs at NoMad Restaurant at Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip on New Year's Eve 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
New Year’s Fireworks on the Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Fireworks explode over the Las Vegas Strip to celebrate the new year of 2020. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kats hits Las Vegas Strip on New Year's Eve - VIDEO
Man-about-town columnist John Katsilometes covers entertainment on the Strip on New Year's Eve Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. Mayfair Supper Club overlooking Bellagio fountains. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
RJ LIVE from Drai's nightclub on the Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Aaron Drawhorn live from Drai's nightclub on the Las Vegas Strip across from the Bellagio fountains on New Year's Eve.
Ayesha Curry and Michael Mina talk about opening International Smoke
Ayesha Curry and Michael Mina, partners in International Smoke, admit things don't always admit things don’t always work the first time. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Unravel the story of House of Eternal Return at Meow Wolf - VIDEO
New Mexico art collective Meow Wolf created the House of Eternal Return in 2016. The group is opening an original immersive experience in Las Vegas next year. (Meow Wolf)
Story behind Spago’s two-pound truffle - VIDEO
Spago chef Mark Andelbradt shares the story of a truffle hunter who found the truffle. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ayesha Curry preps for International Smoke opening
Ayesha Curry talks about preparing for the opening of International Smoke, her collaboration with Michael Mina at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making the French Onion Burger at Topgolf in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Kreg Klaver, executive chef at Topgolf at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, makes the French Onion Burger by topping a 7-ounce beef patty with horseradish-Dijon, caramelized onions, Gruyere and crispy onions, on a pretzel bun. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mayfair Supper Club preview
The finishing touches are still being put on Bellagio’s new Mayfair Supper club, which is set to open on New Year’s Eve. But the creative team behind the experience gave members of the media a little preview on Thursday in a rehearsal space they’ve been using at Park MGM. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holiday Honey Toast at Sake Rok in Las Vegas
Bill Lee, executive sous chef at Sake Rok at The Park in Las Vegas, makes Holiday Honey Toast by hollowing out soft white pain de mie bread, coating it in butter, honey and sugar, toasting it and topping with three scoops of mint-chocolate chip ice cream, more honey-butter, gumdrops, candy canes, powdered sugar and cinnamon. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New lunch menu at Momofuku Las Vegas
Chef Michael Rubinstein talks about the new lunch menu at Momofuku. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Cube by Nanotak at Intersect Festival - VIDEO
The cube synced with driving electronic music and glowed with LEDs that twinkled along the cube’s lines. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Elvis Presley tribute artist Trent Carlini dies - VIDEO
Trent Carlini, a renowned Elvis Presley tribute artist who performed at several Las Vegas resorts for almost 30 years, has died. Clark County officials confirmed Carlini died on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, at a Las Vegas hospital. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Intersect drone light show - VIDEO
The Intersect Music Festival in Las Vegas featured a special drone light show. (Samia DeCubas)
Shirley Chung is “coming home” for Paired dinner
Celebrity chef Shirley Chung is back in Las Vegas to co-host a sold out collaborative dinner Saturday night at Red Plate in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dandelion Chocolate opening at The Venetian
San Francisco’s Dandelion Chocolate will open its first Las Vegas café and retail store in The Venetian on Saturday. To celebrate, they’ll be offering guests free hot chocolate. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lbertine Social’s Pastrami Feast
Libertine Social's massive, house-made short-rib pastrami for $175 latter consists of three bones of short rib brined for seven days, smoked for six hours and cooked sous vide for two days before it’s finished in the restaurant’s pizza oven to give it a bark. It’s then carved and presented tableside with an assortment of sides and lettuce for making wraps. What’s “leftover” is then returned to the kitchen and prepared as Reuben sandwiches.
Ellis Island unveils The Front Yard
Ellis Island’s marketing director Christina Ellis talks about the new addition of the Front Yard. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)