"Hello, It's Me" was the first original song by Todd Rundgren. It was first recorded in 1968 by Rundgren's band Nazz and was included on their self-titled debut album. Although released as the B-side of the group's debut single "Open My Eyes" it was picked up in preference to the A-side by Boston radio station WMEX, where it rose to #1, and was subsequently picked up by other stations, although it didn't fare well nationally, peaking at #66 on the U.S. charts.
Rundgren's songs in this early phase of his career were heavily influenced by the work of Laura Nyro, but in a 2005 interview he revealed that the basic structure of the song was adapted from the introduction of Jimmy Smith recording. "...the main influence for "Hello It's Me" was an eight bar intro that Jimmy Smith played on a recording of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." He had this whole sort of block chord thing that he did to set up the intro of the song. I tried to capture those changes, and those changes became what are the changes underneath "Hello It's Me."
I then had to come up with melody and words, but the changes are actually almost lifted literally from something that was, from Jimmy Smith's standpoint, a throwaway." Rundgren recorded an uptempo version of "Hello It's Me" on his 1972 solo album Something/Anything. Although a remake of the original, this new version became widely popular and has since become a staple of the classic rock genre. An edit of this version was released as a single in 1973 and became Rundgren's only major pop hit, reaching #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.