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The Rutles

The Rutles

Senior Member
Sep 18, 2005

On January 21, 1959 the Rutles story began at 43 Egg Lane, Liverpool, where Ron Nasty and Dirk McQuickly first bumped into each other. Ron invited Dirk to help him stand up. Dirk, merely an ameteur drinker, agreed and on that spot a legend was created, a legend that will last a lunchtime. They were soon to be joined by Stig O'Hara, a guitarist of no fixed hairstyle, but it would be another two years before they found their regular drummer, Barrington Womble, hiding in the van. When they did, they persuaded him to change his name to save time and his haircut to save Brylcreem. He became simply Barry Wom.

They gained their first manager, Arthur Scouse, as part of a bet (which they lost). So impressed was he with their music that he sent them immediately to Hamburg. Thinking that Hamburg was just outside Liverpool they accepted. It turned out to be not only in Germany, but in the very worst part of Germany. The Reeperbahn Hamburg is one of the naughtiest streets in the world. This is where they ended up, far from home, and far from talented.

In those days there was a fifth Rutle, Leppo, who mainly stood at the back. He couldn't play the guitar, but he knew how to have a good time, and in Hamburg that was more difficult. For five hungry working class lads there are worse places than prison, and The Rat Keller Hamburg is one. For fifteen months, night after night, they played the Rat Keller before they finally escaped and returned to Liverpool. In the rush they lost Leppo. He had crawled into a trunk with a small German Fraulien and was never seen again. (This inspired Nasty to write the song "Goose-Step Mama".) His influence on the Rutles was so immeasurable that no one has ever bothered to measure it.

The Rutles returned hungry to Liverpool full of experience and pills. They persuaded the manager of the Cavern to let them play there by holding his head under water until he agreed. Very soon their music began to create no small interest. In fact, no interest at all.

In October 1961 Leggy Mountbatten, a retail chemist from Bolton, entered their lives. Leggy had lost a leg in the closing overs of World War Two and had been hopping around Liverpool ever since. One day he accidentally stumbled down the steps of a dingy disco, what he saw there was to change his life: a sailor who told him about the Rutles. It was a dank, sweaty, basement cellar, torrid and pulsating with sound. Leggy hated it. He hated their music, he hated their hair, he hated their noise: but he loved their trousers. In his autobiography, A Cellarful Of Goys, Leggy tells of timorously approaching Ron Nasty and asking him what it would cost to sign the Rutles. "A couple of jam butties and a beer" was Nasty's reply. Next day Leggy sent them a crate of beer, two jam butties and a fifteen page contract. The Rutles, instinctively trusting this softly spoken, quietly limping man, signed immediately.

Mrs. Iris Mountbatten
Leggy's effect on the Rutles was immediately apparent. He put them into suits, he made them turn up on time, and he took their photgraphs and tapes to London.

Archie Macaw was the first A&R man to take an interest in the Rutles. He offered to record the Rutles and recommended Leggy to *censored* Jaws, an unemployed music publisher of no fixed ability, who signed them to a publishing contract for the rest of their lives.

Elated, Leggy put the Rutles into the studio. Their first album, Please Rut Me, was made in twenty minutes. Their second took even longer. Success was only a drum-beat away.

In 1963 Rutlemania hit England. It seemed that the Rutles could do no wrong. A string of hits - Rut Me Do, Twist and Rut, Please Rut Me - brought unprecedented scenes of mass adulation.

By December they had nineteen hits in the top 20. Even the queen was impressed when they played before her at the Royal Command Performance.

In 1964 the Rutles made their all-important breakthough in America, when Hold My Hand, the Rutles' first single on Capatol Records, became a big hit. When they travelled to America for the first time, 10,000 screaming fans were at Kennedy Airport to greet them. Unfortunately the Rutles arrived at La Guardia.

Nevertheless the next day 73 million people watched them perform live on the Ed Sullivan Show. To all intents and purposes the Rutles had captured the world.

On their second visit to the States in early 1965 they played the world's first outdoor rock and roll concert at Che Stadium (named after the Cuban Guerilla leader Che Stadium). As a security precaution the Rutles arrived by helicopter a day early. This enabled them to be safely out of the place before the audience came in. It was a brilliant public relations coup. The kids were screaming so hard that thousands never noticed the difference. Promoter Syd Bottle described it as the most exciting twenty minutes of his life.

Inevitably the Rutles turned to films and conquered that medium too with the help of zany Rutland director *censored* Leicestershire.

In 1966 the Rutles faced the biggest threat to their careers. Nasty in a widely quoted interview had apparently claimed that the Rutles were bigger than God, and was reported to have gone on to say that God had never had a hit record.

The story spread like wildfire in America. Many fans burnt their albums, many more burnt their fingers attempting to burn their albums. Album sales sky-rocketed. People were buying them just to burn them.

But in fact it was all a ghastly mistake. Nasty, talking to a slightly deaf journalist, had claimed only that the Rutles were bigger than Rod. Rod Stewart would not be big for another eight years, and certainly at this stage hadn't had a hit. At a press conference, Nasty apologized to God, Rod and the press, and the tour went ahead as planned. It would be the Rutles' last.


A year later the Rutles were caught up in another scandal. In the heady atmosphere of San Francisco of the mid sixties, Bob Dylan had introduced the Rutles to a substance that was to have enormous effects on them: Tea. They enjoyed its pleasant effects, despite warnings that it would lead to stronger things, and it enormously influenced their greatest work, Sgt. Rutter's Only Darts Club Band.

The release of this album, a millstone in pop music history, contributed greatly to an idyllic summer of bells, flowers and tea drinking. But it was not to last. Under questioning Dirk refused to lie to the British press and admitted to not only taking tea and enjoying tea, but biscuits too. The press, always envious of the Rutles, leapt at this oppurtunity to have it both ways. They grabbed the wrong end of the stick and began beating around the bush with it. In the ensuing confusion many pop stars were arrested for using and possessing tea. Nasty himself was busted by Detective Inspector Brian Plant, who brought his own to be on the safe side. There was an immediate outcry against this police persecution. The Times carried a full page ad calling for the legalisation of tea, and the general feeling was that police should stick to their proper job of collecting bribes from photographers and protecting the Royal Family from their subjects.

Stig meanwhile had fallen under the influence of Arthur Sultan, the Surrey mystic, and he had introduced Stig to his Ouija Board work. Sultan now invited the Rutles on a get away from it all table-tapping weekend near Bogner. As usual the press followed.

But while the Rutles sat at the feet of the Surrey mystic seeking spiritual enlightenment at his hands fate dealt them an appalling blow. It was at Bogner that they learned the shocking news of the loss of their manager Leggy Mountbatten. Tired and despondant over the weekend and unable to raise any friends, Leggy had gone home and, tragically, accepted a teaching post in Australia. It was a bombshell for the Rutles. They were shocked.

The news was not entirely unexpected. Leggy's recent behavior had been giving grounds for concern. He had been investing heavily in Spanish bullfighters and in California he had been arrested for giving the kiss of life to a rubber raft. But he had for many years held the Rutles together, often forcibly. Now he was gone.

The Rutles first major flop The Tragical History Tour immediately followed the loss of Leggy. It was not the stongest idea for a Rutles film, four Oxford History Professors on a walking tour of English Tea Shops, and it was slammed mercilessly by the critics.


In 1968 Dirk and Nasty flew to New York to announce the formation of Rutles Corps, their aim, as Nasty put it, "to help people help themselves". Unfortunately Rutles Coprs did just that, people helped themselves for years. So many parasites jumped onto the band's wagon that at one stage they were losing money faster than the British government.

What became of the Rutles?

Barry became a hairdresser with two fully equipped salons of his own. Stig went to work for Air India as an air hostess.
his wife Martini went on to form a punk rock group called the Punk Floyd. He sings and she doesn't.

Nasty turned his back on the world, and sat for many years with his thoughts and his memories. He briefly came out of his self-imposed exile in 1977 for an appearance on Saturday Night Live.

I was reading this like two days ago, but I never got to finish it. :ph43r:

Yeah, that does sound like a Monty Python thing, I love that show/whatever. It's British, too.
UltraByte said:
PikMino42 said:
Yeah, that does sound like a Monty Python thing, I love that show/whatever. It's British, too.
OOH! My dad has the whole first season on DVD.
I have teh Rutles on VHS and I got a HArd Day niTe on DVD and yelow Submarin on dvd to.
UltraByte said:
So... The Rutles ARE Monty Python?
I guess, since they had Eric Idle and Neil Innes in it
wikipedia said:
The Rutles began life in 1975 as a sketch on Eric Idle's BBC television series Rutland Weekend Television. The initial sketch presented musician Neil Innes (ex-Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band) fronting The Rutles singing "I Must Be In Love", a masterly pastiche of some of the early Lennon-McCartney tunes.

Innes was the resident musician/composer for the series and would create songs with ideas on how they could be presented visually. A creative motif he would continue on his own BBC TV series "Innes Book Of Records".

Innes came up with the idea of a short skit spoofing the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night and wrote "I Must Be In Love" as the song for the skit. He passed the idea to Idle. Idle had a separate idea for a sketch about a boring TV documentary maker. Idle and Innes decided to connect the two ideas into one extended filmed sequence - and this was shot for the TV show.

What made the Rutles particularly fascinating for music fans were the numerous connections between the Beatles, the Bonzos and the Monty Python team. The Beatles were great fans of the Bonzos -- they featured them in their 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour and Paul McCartney had produced their 1968 hit single I'm The Urban Spaceman. Innes and members of the Python team had worked together in the late 1960s on the cult TV comedy show Do Not Adjust Your Set. Beatles guitarist George Harrison was a dedicated Python fan -- as well as being involved in The Rutles film (see below), his company Handmade Films later took over production of the Pythons' film Life Of Brian after the original backers pulled out, fearing that its subject matter was too controversial.

In the merchandising produced for the TV series references were made to a Rutles album (Finchley Road) and a single ("Ticket To Rut"). In 1976 BBC Records produced The Rutland Weekend Songbook, an album containing 23 tracks including two Rutles songs "I Must Be In Love" and "The Children of Rock and Roll" (later reworked as "Good Times Roll").

Two years later when Eric Idle was asked to appear on the American NBC show Saturday Night (later to become Saturday Night Live), he took several video tape extracts from "Rutland Weekend TV" with him to screen on the show - including the Rutles clip. The Rutles clip generated very positive audience response and led to a suggestion by SNL Executive Producer Lorne Michaels that the idea should be extended from a brief skit into a one-hour mock documentary. This proposal led to the 1978 mockumentary All You Need Is Cash primarily directed by SNL film director Gary Weis (responsible for the program's acclaimed short films) though Eric Idle was given co-director credit. The film purports to be a documentary on the rise and fall of the band paralleling much of the history of the Beatles.
George Harrison makes a cameo appearance in The Rutles, interviewing the band's business manager
George Harrison makes a cameo appearance in The Rutles, interviewing the band's business manager

It was one of the first films of its kind and was undoubtedly a major inspiration for the hugely successful Rob Reiner mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap.

The film is notable for its many cameo appearances by famous stars, particularly George Harrison, who plays a TV journalist who conducts an interview outside the Rutle Corps HQ, oblivious to the stream of people coming out of the building carrying away items stolen from the office (a sly reference to the Beatles' ill-fated Apple Boutique and the famously disorganised Apple Corps offices). The film also features cameos from Idle's fellow Python Michael Palin, American comedians Gilda Radner, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd (Saturday Night Live, The Blues Brothers), Bianca Jagger as one of the Rutles girlfriends, Ron Wood as a Hell's Angel, and Mick Jagger and Paul Simon as themselves. The film is notable for bringing together British and American comic talent in a way that has seldom happened before or since.

The film is primarily a series of skits and gags that each illustrate a different part of the fictional Rutles story - following the chronology of the Beatles' own story. The cohesive glue of the film is the acclaimed soundtrack by Neil Innes who created 19 more songs for the film - each an affectionate pastiche of a different Beatles song or genre of songs. 14 of the songs were released on a soundtrack album with elaborate packaging. (The CD version subsequently added the 6 songs omitted from the original vinyl album.) The album was both critically and commercially successful and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Comedy Recording of the year.

Ironically in view of its later cult status, the film was not a success on its American TV debut and actually finished in bottom place of all programs screened that week - a source of wry pride to composer Neil Innes. The program fared better on its British debut on BBC TV. The film's cult status grew from the success of the soundtrack album and after the release of the film on the comparatively new medium of home video.

A 66-minute version (edited for TV) was released on video and DVD but it has since been superseded by the restored 72-minute version.