Bookie's CLUB 870 Performance & Event Venue · Detroit, Michigan Live music and historical artifacts from the Detroit rock music scene. DONALD GARLAND RADER was Detroit's first rockabilly/rock & roll recording artist. Don kept playing and recording until his death July 4, 2004, at age 65 BEN WAUGH (Scott Campbell), singer, guitarist, drummer, and founder of Detroit Punk Band THE SILLIES, from April 1977 to present THE SEATBELTS Great Detroit Retro/Punk Rock Band! THE BRIAN STONES CLONES! Special Guests MARCIE BOLEN and more!
Reuniting for First North American Tour in 32 years - Releasing Limited Edition “The Road To Utopia” Box Set
FOR 32 YEARS, FANS HAVE BEEN CLAMORING FOR A REUNION - The wait is over.
No longer able to turn a deaf ear to the unceasing requests from fans and the media alike, Todd Rundgren, Kasim Sulton, Willie Wilcox and Ralph Schuckett are reuniting for their first North American tour since the Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded. Presented by Sirius XM and produced by Live Nation, TODD RUNDGREN’S UTOPIA will be performing across North America beginning on April 18.
In celebration of the upcoming reunion tour, Friday Music will be releasing a 7-disc box set, THE ROAD TO UTOPIA: THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS (1974-82). This limited edition collection will bring each of their seven classic albums to life, now in first-time CD digipak gatefold covers featuring the original album artwork elements, rare inner sleeve art, newly written commentary from the band, and more. The box set has a scheduled street date of April 20. Fans can pre-order now at Friday Music, Amazon and Record Store Day.
Todd Rundgren’s Utopia was formed in 1974 out of Todd’s desire to explore new musical territory. Starting as a prog-rock-progenitor septet the band’s music ranged from extended synth experiments to four-song albums, while their live shows were distinguished by their ahead-of-the-curve video backdrops and computer-generated music.
In 1976 the band evolved into “Utopia”, the shiny mainstream power-pop rock quartet, uniting Todd Rundgren on guitar, Willie Wilcox on drums, Roger Powell on keyboards, and Kasim Sulton on bass. Known for their hallmark lyrics, lush inventive background vocals and a voracious appetite for the highest level of musicianship. Utopia became known as the quintessential “musician’s band”. Every member took his turn singing lead on every album, and all songwriting was collaborative.
By 1980, Utopia had developed into a hit-making entity in its own right. Standout Utopia albums included Oops! Wrong Planet, Adventures in Utopia, and Oblivion, spawning hits including “Rock Love,” “Set Me Free,” “Mated,” and “Love Is The Answer”, which also became a global #1 for England Dan and John Ford Coley.
Utopia’s tours, among the first to aggressively incorporate then-state-of-the-art video technology, produced at Todd’s groundbreaking Utopia Video Studios, featured some of the most lavish and audacious stage productions in rock history.
Their headline concerts frequently featured opening acts as future superstars Cheap Trick and The Cars, and the band performed at some of the 70’s most epic rock festivals, including Knebworth Castle in the UK --- once with the Rolling Stones in 1976 and twice with Led Zeppelin in 1979, before a combined audience of over 1,200,000 (amongst them a Who’s Who of rock royalty, including Paul McCartney and David Gilmour) .
Always on the bleeding edge, Utopia chalked up a long history of groundbreaking media “firsts”, including:
• 1978: The first interactive television concert, broadcast live over Warner/QUBE, the experimental interactive cable system in Columbus, Ohio (the home television audience chose each song in real time during the concert by voting via QUBE’s 2-way operating system).
• 1978: The first live nationally broadcast stereo radio rock concert (via microwave), linking 40 cities around the country.
• 1982: The first live national cablecast of a rock concert (on the USA Network), simulcast in stereo to over 120 radio stations.
In 1986, after ten years of non-stop recording and arena touring cycles, the band declared they were “going on sabbatical”, and Todd, Willie, Roger and Kas each embarked on their own career paths.
What’s been happening with the Utopians during the world’s longest ever sabbatical?
Todd Rundgren returned to his stellar solo recording and producing career. His myriad production projects ranged from Patti Smith, Cheap Trick, XTC, and Psychedelic Furs to Grand Funk Railroad, Hall & Oates, and Meat Loaf’s seminal Bat Out Of Hell, while his solo offerings catapulted Todd further into the superstar limelight with hits like “Can We Still be Friends”, and “Bang The Drum”; in addition to his own tours, Todd has been an erstwhile member of Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band for the past 28 years.
Kasim Sulton continued touring and recording with a long list of diverse artists including Joan Jett, Hall & Oates, Blue Oyster Cult, Patti Smith, Celine Dion, and Meat Loaf.
In 1993 Kasim joined Meat Loaf’s live band after the release of Bat Out Of Hell II, touring extensively and becoming his Musical Director. In 1999 he produced Meat Loaf’s critically acclaimed VH1 Storytellers album. Releasing four solo albums of his own, Kasim has continued his long musical relationship with Todd as the bass player in his solo bands.
Willie Wilcox continued to pursue his songwriting career. Having written songs for & performed with Luther Vandross, Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, Meat Loaf, Hall & Oates, and Kylie Minogue positioned Willie perfectly for his segue into television writing.
He was the senior staff composer for NBC Universal in NY for 5 years and composed the current show theme for CNBC’s “Mad Money,” launched a major audio post production facility in Miami with clients MTV & VH1, penned famed boxer Manny Pacquiao’s ring walk music, and continues to maintain his position as senior audio director at Scientific Games, the number one gaming company in the world, where he recently completed the surround sound audio production on the blockbuster Michael Jackson game, “King Of Pop!”
Ralph Schuckett: Ralph’s tenure with Todd Rundgren’s Utopia segued into composing themes & scores for TV & Film including “Kate & Allie” & “Another World.” As chief composer for “4 Kids Productions” he scored numerous feature films & animated TV series including; “Pokémon,” “Yugioh,” “Sonic X,” “Kirby,” & “One Piece.”
He has recorded and /or toured with Carole King, Hall & Oates, Whitney Houston, George Benson, and Rodney Crowell, and provided arrangements on recordings for Billy Joel, Michael Bolton. and Joan Osborne. As a songwriter / producer Ralph has worked with Belinda Carlisle, Sophie B. Hawkins, and Clarence Clemons.
As fate would have it, in early April Todd, Kas, Willie and Ralph will find themselves back in Woodstock New York, 32 years later, right where it all started, rehearsing their newest stage spectacle.
TODD RUNDGREN'S UTOPIA North American reunion tour, featuring Todd, Kasim, Willie, & Ralph, begins on April 18 and ends on June 5 (tour dates below). Tickets and more information are available at Live Nation, Ticketmaster and all Ticketmaster outlets.
THE FIRST REUNION ON-CAMERA INTERVIEW – WATCH HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-e3Wrps2zr0
TODD RUNDGREN’S UTOPIA TOUR DATES
APRIL 18 JIM THORPE PA, PENNS PEAK
APRIL 20 ENGLEWOOD NJ, BERGEN PAC
APRIL 22 HOUSTON TX, HOUSE OF BLUES
APRIL 23 DALLAS TX, MAJESTIC THEATER
APRIL 25 BROWARD FL, BROWARD PAC
APRIL 27 ST PETERSBURG FL, MAHAFFEY THEATER
APRIL 28 ATLANTA GA, TABERNACLE
APRIL 29 DURHAM NC, CAROLINA THEATER
MAY 1 HUNTINGTON NY, PARAMOUNT THEATER
MAY 2 WASHINGTON DC, WARNER THEATER
MAY 3 NEW YORK NY, TOWN HALL
MAY 5 PHILADELPHIA PA, TOWER THEATER
MAY 6 BOSTON MA, ORPHEUM THEATER
MAY 7 RIDGEFIELD CT, RIDGEFIELD PLAYHOUSE
MAY 9 ST LOUIS MO, PEABODY OPERA HOUSE
MAY 10 CINCINNATI OH, TAFT THEATER
MAY 12 MILWAUKEE WI, PABST THEATER
MAY 13 MINNEAPOLIS MN, STATE THEATER
MAY 15 GRAND RAPIDS MI, 20 MONROE LIVE
MAY 16 TORONTO ONT, MASSEY HALL
MAY 17 DETROIT MI, THE FILLMORE
MAY 19 CLEVELAND OH, HARD ROCK LIVE
MAY 20 CLEVELAND OH, HARD ROCK LIVE
MAY 22 CHICAGO IL, CHICAGO THEATER
MAY 24 DENVER CO, PARAMOUNT THEATER
MAY 26 LAS VEGAS NV, THE JOINT @ THE HARD ROCK
MAY 27 PHOENIX AZ, COMERICA THEATER
MAY 29 LOS ANGELES CA, THE WILTERN
MAY 30 SAN FRANCISCO CA, THE MASONIC
JUNE 1 SEATTLE WA, MOORE THEATER
JUNE 2 PORTLAND OR, REVOLUTION THEATER
JUNE 4 SACRAMENTO CA, CREST THEATER
JUNE 5 RIVERSIDE CA, FOX PAC
Like many people, I love to hear a good comeback story. I had the opportunity to meet with the band members of Madam X. Their journey was and continues to be a fascinating one. This is a story within many stories they have to tell…
Going Against the Norm…
Madam X was formed in the late 1970’s /early 1980’s by two sisters from Detroit, Maxine and Roxy Petrucci. The two girls were into heavy metal music. Maxine played guitar, and Roxy played drums. They were not your typical high school girls. They didn’t hang out in dress shops, or go to school dances. Instead, their free time was spent playing music and hanging out in music stores. Their obvious obsession with music made them somewhat of misfits among the high school student body, even though they had both earned music scholarships to Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan.
Maxine and Roxy had auditioned many musicians for their band before they finalized their lineup, which included Chris Doliber on bass and Bret Kaiser on vocals. After a year of gigging every night in Detroit, the foursome packed up and left for New York. They had no plans on how they were going to survive; they just knew their ultimate goal was to be in California and have a record deal, so the how didn’t matter.
The Gritty Road…
There is no better way to describe their early years of work other then to call it gritty. The word “gritty” means “having strong qualities of uncompromising realism,” and that just about summarizes their journey early on. With little income, the foursome lived the life of “starving artists.” When they weren’t sleeping in their vehicles on tour, they slept on the floors of roach infested motels. They would take turns going to eat at cheap buffet restaurants, paying for one meal and then sneaking food back for the other members to eat. The band had a grueling schedule of performing every night which gradually led to a loyal following of metal heads. They had no manager, no marketing team, and no money. They did all the bookings, promoting, and negotiating, themselves.
After building a following in New York, and elsewhere, they scheduled a tour that included their ultimate destination, California. They booked a show at the Troubadour Nightclub in Las Angeles. After their performance, which ended at about midnight, they were approached by a woman who introduced herself as an agent in the music business. The woman suggested that the band go to the venue next door, called the Rainbow Room, to mingle.
The Rainbow Room was the hangout for major national bands such as Motley Crue, Poison, Alice Cooper, and many others. With some hesitation, the band decided to go check it out. As they walked into the venue, their “larger then life” hairstyles caught the attention of everyone in the room, including one of the A&R representatives from Jet Records. The A&R representative asked them who they were and the band introduced themselves. He then asked for a promo pack. Luckily, the band was always prepared and gave him one. Within a week after, the band received a call from Jet Records asking where they were playing next.
The audience at their next gig included, the president of Jet Records, Don Arden. The band performed with their usual level of passion, energy and integrity to their music. Immediately after their performance, Don Arden told them their lives were about to change. He offered to sign Madam X to Jet Records that night.
After the initial explosion of excitement from getting signed, the band quickly began settling into the realization that they were no longer in control of their destiny. They had to adjust and conform to having little creative control. They were under the impression that being signed to a record label meant things were going to happen quickly and on a big scale. The problem was Madam X had already made things happen quickly and big, without any help. Their level of speed was much greater than what a label could offer them.
Hence, began the negativity with the label and then within the band. Eventually, both the band and the label were dealing with separate as well as some mutual issues that caused the band to break up and the label to dissolve. At this point, the members were emotionally drained, and their energy was depleted. They walked away from the Madam X experience and all went their separate ways. Each member continued to pursue music, Maxine started her own band called Maxine; Roxy became the drummer for the popular all female metal band, Vixen; Bret began his own band called Band ’56; and Chris continued to play bass and write music.
As the Years Go By…
Aside from getting back together in 1991 for one show, the band had little or no contact after the break up. Some 28 years later, while on tour in England with the Vixen band, Roxy was at a “meet and greet,” signing autographs after her gig. She found herself repeatedly answering questions about Madam X and also signing Madam X paraphernalia. Roxy realized that although the members of Madam X had moved on, their loyal fans did not.
Roxy contacted Maxine, Brett, and Chris to share her experience and suggested they get together to write and record one song. With the help of producer Kevin Sharpe of Metro 37 Studio, the band reunited and began working on one song to release. As word got out, via social media, the band found that their fans were waiting with excitement. They were contacted by one of the founders of The Sweden Rock Festival, the biggest festival in Sweden, and invited them to perform at the 2014 festival.
With some reservation, the band agreed to do the show. When they arrived in Sweden, they were interviewed by on one of the local magazines, who asked them if they had any idea how big they were in Sweden. The band had no idea. The moments before the show, as the band walked toward the stage, they described the halls leading up to the stage as a “maze” with tall walls so that you couldn’t see out. They described being somewhat nervous, hoping that maybe at least a couple hundred people would show up.
“We had no idea what to expect when we hit the stage. It had been almost 30 years since we played together. We knew this could be either the end of Madam X, or the new beginning.”
Once they hit the stage and saw the “sea of heads,” a crowd of about 20,000 fans, chanting for them, they were overwhelmed. The band portrayed the experience as being “surreal” and “invigorating.” As they began playing, “the nerves settled and it felt like home,” as Roxy put it. At one point, during their performance of their song, High in High School, Bret pointed the microphone at the audience and the band listened to the crowd sing all the words to the song they wrote some 30 years ago. This moment proved that this was, in fact, the new beginning for Madam X!
The Next Chapter…
The band is now recording a new CD with Kevin Sharpe at Metro37 Studio. They have plans to release the CD with a big comeback party right here in Detroit, where it all started. They hired an agent and are planning on a tour in the summer of 2015.
It is amazing how the universe works. When the time is right, and the dream is big enough, the universe will bring it back around.
We have a BOOKIE'S ANNIVERSARY show on Monday, March 17, 36 years
after the first show. Scott Campbell intended to have this at the "new"
Bookie's but he hasn't been able to do all the improvements.So it will
be at the Perfect Pitcher on ST. PATRICK'S DAY