|Genres||Parody, comedy rock, pop rock|
|Years active||1975–1978, 1996–1997, 2002|
|Labels||Warner Bros., Rhino, Virgin|
|Associated acts||The Beatles, Monty Python,Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band|
|Past members||Eric Idle|
- 2 The band
- 3 Fictional history
- 4 Rutles discography (real)
- 5 Lawsuits
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Rutland Weekend Television (1975–76)
Saturday Night Live (1976)
Saturday Night Live (1977)
On 23 April 1977, Idle made another appearance on Saturday Night Live, bringing along Neil Innes as a musical guest. A running theme for this episode is the "Save Great Britain Telethon," and at one point there is an appearance by "The Rutle who lives in New York, Nasty". Innes appeared as Nasty with a lone white piano, singing a short version of "Cheese & Onions". Later in the episode, as Neil Innes, he performed "Shangri-La", a song that The Rutles would much later record.
"All You Need Is Cash" (1978)
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The Beatles' reaction
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- Ringo Starr liked the happier scenes in the film, but felt the scenes that mimicked sadder times hit too close.
- John Lennon loved the film and refused to return the videotape and soundtrack he was given for approval. He told Innes, however, that 'Get Up and Go' was too close to The Beatles' "Get Back" and to be careful not to be sued by ATV Music, who at the time held the Beatles catalogue's copyright. The song was consequently omitted from the 1978 vinyl LP soundtrack.
- Paul McCartney, who had just released his own album, London Town, always answered, "No comment." According to Innes: "He had a dinner at some awards thing at the same table as Eric one night and Eric said it was a little frosty." Idle claimed McCartney changed his mind because his wife Linda thought it was funny.
Idle claims on the All You Need Is Cash DVD commentary track that Harrison and Starr at one point discussed starting a band with Innes and Idle, based on the Beatles' and Rutles' shared and imaginary histories. This never came to pass. Harrison and Starr also surprised him and Innes one day by singing a version of "Ouch"; two of The Beatles singing a Rutles song to two of The Rutles.
Later historyIn 1979 Idle and Fataar issued a single as 'Dirk and Stig' - "Ging Gang Goolie" backed with "Mr. Sheene". This was Idle's only appearance on a Rutles-related disc.  Throughout the 1980s The Rutles did not exist.
In 1982, The Rutles were involved in a record scandal reminiscent of the one surrounding the Beatles Yesterday and Today album. Rhino Records, at the time a small Los Angeles label specializing in off-beat releases, put out an album called Beatlesongs, purportedly a collection of Beatles novelty songs (it was actually a weird catch-all of assorted Beatles-related tunes). For the collection, Rhino licensed The Rutles' "Hold My Hand" from Warner Bros Records. The cover of the album was done by well-known commercial artist William Stout (who had made a name for himself drawing the cover artwork for some of the best-looking Beatles bootleg records in the seventies). His cover drawing included a representation of the man who killed John Lennon, which generated an immense backlash. Rhino responded by recalling the album and reissuing it with a new, innocuous cover, which they announced in this press release.
A clip from All You Need Is Cash appeared on this compilation of comedy videos put out by the now-defunct Vestron Home Video in 1985. The clip is simply the Tragical History Tour part of All You Need Is Cash, with the sound clunkily muted out during the segment's narration in order to leave just the music. This home video release was put out on both VHS and Laserdisk.
Innes, with a group called The Moptops backed by the Rutland Symphony Orchestra, performed as "Ron Nasty and The New Rutles" at a convention honouring the 25th anniversary of Monty Python in 1994. This led to a Rutles reunion album in 1996, featuring Innes, Fataar and Halsey. Halsall died in 1992, but the reunion album, entitled Archaeology (a play on the Beatles' Anthology series), featured several tracks recorded in 1978 that included his contributions. The Japanese version included 4 bonus tracks.
In 2002, Idle made The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch, but it remained unreleased for a year. The film features an even bigger number of celebrity interviewees discussing the band's influence. This was met with mixed reactions from fans, particularly because no new footage of the Rutles was filmed. The DVD has yet to be released in the UK.
McQuickly and Nasty had cameos in the 2004 graphic novel, Superman: True Brit, co-written by John Cleese.
In 2007, a reissue of Archaeology included a new Rutles track called "Rut-a-lot" (a jab at Eric Idle's stage show "Spamalot") which was simply a live medley of songs from the first Rutles album.
On 17 March 2008, all four movie Rutles (i.e., Innes, Idle, Fataar and Halsey) reunited for the first time at a 30th anniversary screening of All You Need Is Cash at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. The event included a question and answer session and performance by members of the tribute show "Rutlemania" which ran for a week at the Ricardo Montalban Theater in Hollywood before doing a week in NYC at The Blender Gramercy Theater. The "Rutlemania" live show was conceived and written by Eric Idle which starred The Beatles tribute group "The Fab Four" as "The Pre-fab Four" Rutles.
In February 2009 on his website "InnesBookOfRecords.Com", Neil Innes released what he refers to as "Ron Nasty's Final Song", titled "Imitation Song" - a parody of "Imagine". This was also Innes' first and only entry in the Masters of Song-Fu competition run by Quick Stop Entertainment.
Rutland Weekend Television version (1975–76)The Rutles members in the original 1975 skit on Rutland Weekend Television, which subsequently aired on Saturday Night Live, were:
Some actors lip-synching the Rutles music on-screen were not musicians, and did not participate in the recording process. Rutles music for Rutland Weekend Television and the spin-off album The Rutland Weekend Songbook was recorded by Neil Innes' own band Fatso, which consisted of:
- Neil Innes - piano, vocal
- John Halsey - drums
- Roger Rettig - guitar
- Billy Bremner (later of Rockpile fame) - guitar
- Brian Hodgson - bass
All You Need Is Cash version (1978)In adapting the characters for a full-length TV feature, several changes were made. Idle continued to play "Dirk", but Dirk was now modelled after Paul McCartney, not George Harrison. Battley was replaced as Stig by Ricky Fataar, and Stig became the George Harrison-inspired character. Additionally, the characters now all had first and last names.
The Rutles members in All You Need Is Cash were:
- Ron Nasty (styled after John Lennon) — played by Neil Innes
- Dirk McQuickly (styled after Paul McCartney) — played by Eric Idle
- Stig O'Hara (styled after George Harrison) — played by Ricky Fataar
- Barry Wom, né Barrington Womble (styled after Ringo Starr) — played by John Halsey. The character's truncated name was a play on how Ringo had changed his name from 'Richard Starkey' to 'Ringo Starr'.
- Leppo, The Fifth Rutle (styled after Stuart Sutcliffe) — seen only in a still photograph. The photo showed Ollie Halsall, who played and sang on the soundtrack.
- Neil Innes: guitar, keyboards, vocals. Innes sang the John Lennon-inspired songs.
- Ollie Halsall: guitar, keyboards, vocals. Halsall sang the Paul McCartney-inspired songs.
- Ricky Fataar: guitar, bass, sitar, tabla, vocals. Fataar sang the George Harrison-inspired songs.
- John Halsey: percussion, vocals. Halsey sang the Ringo Starr- inspired songs.
- Andy Brown: bass
Archaeology version (1996)After an 18-year hiatus, The Rutles (Innes, Halsey and Fataar) reconvened to record the 1996 album Archaeology (parody of the Beatles Anthology). Halsall had died in 1992, but appears on several tracks that were outtakes from the original 1978 album, and is credited as a band member (similar to the Beatles' "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love").
On record the band was augmented by keyboardist Mickey Simmonds, who would go on to play with the band live. Also appearing on the record was bassist Malcolm Foster (ex-Pretenders), as The Rutles had no bass player. Guitarists Doug Boyle and Bernie Holland were featured.
Subsequent touring versions (1997–present)Innes and Halsey toured as The Rutles in the UK, augmented by other musicians. The touring group performs songs from the Rutles repertoire and from Innes's solo career.
The touring version:
- Neil Innes — piano, guitar and vocals;
- John Halsey — drums and vocals;
- Mark Griffiths — bass guitar and vocals;
- Mickey Simmonds — keyboards and vocals;
- Ken Thornton — lead guitar and vocals; (nicknamed "Rutling" by Neil Innes)
- J.J. Jones - percussion
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In 1960, at the suggestion of then-manager Arthur Scouse, the group went to Hamburg where, with fifth member Leppo, who mainly stood at the back, they played all the clubs on the Reeperbahn, particularly The Rat Keller. It was there that Leppo crawled inside a trunk with a small German fräulein and was never heard from again. Luckily, he had no talent for playing anyway.
In October 1961, fate intervened in the shape and other attributes of one-legged retail chemist from Bolton, Leggy Mountbatten (a parody of Brian Epstein), who, after falling into "The Cavern" one night, decided he hated the boys' music, but liked the cut of their jib (and especially the cut of their trousers). He became their manager, cleaned up their image, and touted them around the major record companies. Eventually, they signed to Parlourphone, and their debut album, which was recorded in 20 minutes (their second took even longer), became an enormous success. By December 1963, they were the biggest thing ever to hit the music business, with 19 out of the top 20 singles in the UK.
In 1964, Rutlemania went worldwide, and then some. The group swiftly conquered the US thanks to the promotion of Bill Murray the K, while Nasty's book of comic prose, Out Of Me Head, dominated the best-seller lists. In July of that year, the group's first film, A Hard Day's Rut, was released. This was followed in 1965 by Ouch! By this time, Rutlemania had reached such a fever pitch that crowd control was a serious problem. In August 1965, the Prefab Four played a sell-out concert at New York's Ché Stadium (named for famed Cuban guerilla leader Che Stadium), arriving a day early in order to get away before the audience arrived.
In 1966, controversy hit the Rutles when Nasty was quoted as saying that the group were 'bigger than God'. Nasty, however, insisted that he had been misquoted by a slightly deaf journalist, and had actually said they were bigger than Rod, referring to Rod Stewart, then a relative unknown. The band bounced back with their 1967 masterpiece Sgt. Rutter's Only Darts Club Band, though this too was misted over in controversy when the group claimed they wrote it under the influence of tea, to which they had been introduced by Bob Dylan. When Nasty was arrested for possession of tea, there was a national outcry and a full-page advertisement in The Times calling for it to be legalised. All five members of The Rolling Stones had been arrested already, and an MP had been caught nude with a teapot. Shortly afterwards, Nasty visited an art exhibit at The Pretentious Gallery in Soho, and it was here that he met a German-born Nazi artist named Chastity whose father had invented World War II. After spending a whole night together, Nasty and Chastity announced their engagement the next day at a press conference, during which they sat in a shower to promote world peace.
While staying with the mystic Arthur Sultan at his retreat in Bognor Regis, the band heard that Mountbatten had tragically emigrated to Australia, where he had accepted a teaching post. Some critics argue that the band lost their direction at this point. Tragical History Tour, their self-indulgent TV movie about four Oxford history professors on a tour around Rutland tea-shops, was regarded as a failure. They then made their first animated film, Yellow Submarine Sandwich .
In April 1968, the group launched their record company, Rutle Corps. Despite signing up some promising talent (notably Arthur Hodgson and the Kneecaps and the 'French Beach Boys,' Les Garçons de la Plage), poor financial management (mainly on the part of Stig O'Hara's financial planner, Ron Decline) finally led to the label's ultimate failure. Around this time, a 'Stig is Dead' rumour, prompted by both many obscure clues within the band's songs and album covers (including a track which, when played backwards, reportedly said 'Stig has been dead for ages, honestly') and the fact that Stig had not spoken publicly in five years began to circulate, prompting Barry to stay in bed for a year. Whether this was intended as a tax dodge or as an attempt to start his own 'Barry is Also Dead' rumour never became clear.
It was in this atmosphere that the group's final release, Let It Rot, was recorded. Soon afterwards, the band fell apart amid much legal wrangling; McQuickly sued Nasty and O'Hara, Wom sued McQuickly, Nasty sued O'Hara and Wom and - in all the confusion - O'Hara ended up accidentally suing himself. Wom had some success with his solo LP, When You Find The Girl Of Your Dreams In The Arms Of Some Scotsmen From Hull, but like the other members, soon drifted into obscurity, punctuated only by the making of a 1978 retrospective documentary, All You Need Is Cash. McQuickly formed the punk rock group Punk Floyd with his French wife, Martini (he sang; she did not); Nasty turned his back on the world; Wom became two hairdressers, as per a joke once made to the press; and O'Hara found work for Air India as an air hostess.
It is rumoured that The Rutles acquired all their music from others. Many people said that they stole it from New Orleans blues legend Blind Lemon Pye, but he said that the Rutles' music came from his next-door neighbour Ruttling Orange Peel. Ruttling claimed that he did write the music, but his wife claims that he is always lying. She said that he also claimed to have started the Everly Brothers, Frank Sinatra and Lawrence Welk. There is a small-time group named The Beatles who patterned their career after the legendary Rutles.
Rutles discography (real)
The Rutland Weekend Songbook (1976)"The Rutland Weekend Songbook" / Eric Idle & Neil Innes
BBC Records (UK) / Passport Records (US)
Saturday: (Side 1 )
- "L'Amour Perdu"
- Wash With Mother ( "Front Loader" )
- "Say Sorry Again"
- The Rutles in "Rutles For Sale". ("I Must Be In Love")
- 24 Hours In Tunbridge Wells ( "Tunbridge Wells Medley" )
- The Fabulous Bingo Brothers ( "Once We Had A Donkey" )
- In Concrete ( "Concrete Jungle Boy")
- "The Children of Rock-N-Roll"
- Startime ("Stoop Solo" )
- "Song O'The Insurance Salesmen"
- "I Give Myself To You"
- "Communist Cooking"
- Johnny Cash Live At Mrs. Fletchers ( "Stuck In Mrs. Fletchers" )
- The Old Gay Whistle Test ("Protest Song")
- "Accountancy Shanty"
- Goodafternoon ("L'Amour Perdu Cha-Cha-Cha")
- Disco ("Hard To Get")
- Closedown ("The Song O'The Continuity Announcers")
- Side 1, Track 5: The first released Rutles recording. (This version has slightly different lyrics from the 1978 version.)
- Liner notes mis-credit "Kevin" as a Rutle instead of "Barry." (This marks the only appearance of "Kevin" in the Rutles canon, although it could be stated that "Kevin" is more of a parody of Pete Best)
- The original "Rutles" Musicians are: Roger Rettig and Billy Bremner on guitars, Brian Hodgson on bass, Neil Innes on piano, and John Halsey on drums. (This group was also known as "Fatso.")
- Side 1, Track 9: This song is credited as "Ron Lennon," and it is the nucleus of what will later become The Rutles song "Good Times Roll".
- Album reissued on C.D. in the 1990s with two bonus tracks: "Protest Song" (Uncensored) & "I Must Be In Love" (Minus screaming fans.)
The Rutles (1978)A soundtrack album entitled The Rutles containing 14 tongue-in-cheek pastiches of Beatles songs was also released. The CD reissue included the 6 other songs featured on the soundtrack that were not included in the vinyl LP.
The cover art of the album suggested the existence of a number of other Rutles albums including Tragical History Tour and Let It Rot.
The album contains some obvious send-ups of Beatles numbers such as "Ouch!" ("Help!"), "Good Times Roll" ("Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"), "Love Life" ("All You Need is Love"), "Cheese and Onions" ("A Day in the Life"), "Piggy in the Middle" ("I Am the Walrus"), "Doubleback Alley" ("Penny Lane") and "Get Up And Go" (CD reissue only — "Get Back"). However, its real tribute is in its subtly layered blending of elements from Lennon-McCartney tunes.
The Rutles 7" Singles (1978)"I Must Be In Love" + "Cheese And Onions " / "A Girl Like You"
WEA Records / UK only release / 1978 / K17125
Side 1: "I Must Be In Love"
Side 2: "Cheese And Onions" / "A Girl Like You"
- Released with picture sleeve.
- Two versions of the sleeve were printed. One has the correct title for "With A Girl Like You," and the other has the title incorrectly listed as "A Girl Like You." The title is always correct on the record label itself.
- All three songs same as album versions.
WEA Records / UK only release / 1978 / K17180
Side 1: "Let's Be Natural"
Side 2: "Piggy In the Middle"
- Issued in a standard paper sleeve.
- Both songs same as album versions.
WEA Records / Japan / 1978 / P-200-W
Warner Bros. Records / US / 1978 / WBS 8560
Side 1: "I Must Be In Love"
Side 2: "Doubleback Alley"
- Japanese release issued in picture sleeve featuring rare colour photo from "I Must Be In Love" video.
- Both songs same as album versions.
- The US promo single has stereo and mono versions of "I Must Be In Love."
The Rutles 12" EP (1978)Promotional Warner Bros. faux-Beatles Rutles five-song 331⁄3 RPM 12-inch (PRO-E-723) complete with recreated Lads-in-Nehru-suits portrait in the same fashion and pose as the real Beatles' portrait released on the sleeve of the Capitol 45 rpm release "I Want to Hold Your Hand" b/w "I Saw Her Standing There" (Capitol 5112). The unnamed Rutle Corps Records label (peeled banana in the centre) boasted five tracks and was pressed in translucent yellow vinyl:
- "I Must Be In Love" - 2:04 ("A Hard Day's Night"/ "Can't Buy Me Love")
- "Doubleback Alley" - 2:54 ("Penny Lane")
- "With A Girl Like You" - 1:50 ("If I Fell")
- "Another Day" - 2:09 ("Martha My Dear")
- "Let's Be Natural" - 3:23 ("Dear Prudence")
The Rutles Archaeology (1996)Three of the five musicians who had created the soundtrack for the 1978 film — Innes, Halsey and Fataar — reunited in 1996 and recorded a second album, Archaeology, a send-up of The Beatles Anthology albums. The fourth 'real' Rutle, Ollie Halsall, died in Spain in 1992. Original Rutles bassist Andy Brown did not participate in the reunion. Eric Idle was invited to participate, but he declined. Accordingly, photos of the three 'surviving' Rutles parodied those of the then three surviving Beatles in the Anthology series.
Like the Anthology project that it lampooned, it featured tracks ostensibly from all periods of the Rutles career, sequenced to reflect the fictional band's chronology. Several of the songs were actually old Innes standards that were dusted off and given the 'Rutles' treatment. The reunion was blessed by George Harrison, who encouraged The Pre-Fab Four to proceed. When approached, he told Innes, 'Sure. It's all part of the "soup"' Innes related that encounter in interviews he gave in 1996. and again in 2013.
"Eric Idle Sings Monty Python" (2000)"Eric Idle Sings Monty Python" (Live) / Eric Idle
Restless Records / C.D. only release / 01877-73730-2
- Track 16 is the only track with Rutles content, Idle sings "I Must Be In Love" (First recording of Idle vocalising a Rutles song.)
- Eric is introduced as "Sir Dirk McQuickly" with a "History of The Rutles" introduction by Peter Crabbe
- In the C.D. booklet, the lyric page for this song is torn out.
- This C.D. is the sole release featuring the notorious " Lennon / McCartney / Innes " song credit!
Rutles Highway Revisited (A tribute to The Rutles)A 20-track album of Rutles covers released by Shimmy Disc on 8 December 1993.
- "Cheese & Onions" - Galaxie 500
- "Hold My Hand" - The Pussywillows
- "Number One" - Bongos, Bass & Bob
- "Good Times Roll" - Lida Husik
- "Another Day" - Dogbowl
- "Piggy In The Middle" - Das Damen
- "I Must Be In Love" - Syd Straw and Marc Ribot
- "Nevertheless" - Joey Arias
- "Let's Be Natural" - When People Were Shorter and Lived Near the Water
- "Between Us" - Unrest
- "Ouch!" - Peter Stampfel and The Bottlecaps
- "Blue Suede Schubert" - The Tinklers
- "Living In Hope" - Tuli Kupferberg
- "Baby Let Me Be" - Daniel Johnston
- "It's Looking Good" - Uncle Wiggly
- "Goose Step Mama" - Shonen Knife
- "Get Up And Go" - Jellyfish Kiss
- "Doubleback Alley" - King Missile
- "With A Girl Like You" - Paleface
- "Love Life" - Bongwater
BootlegsBootlegs include Hard Days Rut, Rehearsal, Sweet Rutle Tracks, Rutles To Let, Sgt. Rutters Only Darts Club Band, and Rutland's Rare Rutles Revisited. Much of the material on these releases comes from 1978 rehearsal tapes, or from the Rutland Weekend Television soundtrack LP.
- Also of note: "Cheese & Onions" - the version heard on Saturday Night Live - made its way onto several Beatles bootleg albums, as an unreleased John Lennon demo. See: "Indian Rope Trick. The Echoes of a Dream" (side 2, track 5), for one.
- "Get Up & Go" also appeared on a bootleg as an "Unreleased Beatles Track" on the album, "Tanks For the Mammaries".
LawsuitsFollowing the release of the 1978 The Rutles album, ATV Music, the then-owner of the publishing rights to the Beatles catalog, sued Innes for copyright infringement. Though Innes hired a musicologist to defend the originality of his songs, he settled with ATV out of court for 50% of the royalties and shared songwriting credit on the 14 songs included on the album. As of early 2006, these six songs from the first Rutles CD (which were not on the original LP release, but some of which were included in the television film) are credited solely to Neil Innes: "Baby Let Me Be", "Between Us", "Blue Suede Schubert", "Get Up And Go", "Goose Step Mama", and "It's Looking Good". The other 14 songs from the CD (all songs from the original LP release) have all had John Lennon and Paul McCartney added to the songwriting credits along with Neil Innes. However, the booklet accompanying a 2007 reissue of the album on Rhino/Warner Brothers credits all 20 songs solely to Innes.
- Eric Idle (1978). All You Need Is Cash (Film).
- George C. Perry (2007). The Life of Python. Pavilion. p. 154. ISBN 1-86205-762-1.
- SNL Transcripts listing
- BBC, Radio 4. "Chain Reaction". Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- Bootleg album (vinyl LP): Indian Rope Trick. The Echoes of a Dream. Slipped Disc Records SX-TT 979. Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark.
- Catlin Moran (25 October 1996). The spoof Beatles are back in business. Times (London).
- Paul du Noyer (1 December 1996). The Post-Prefab Three. Q Magazine.
- BMI web site
- Badman, Keith (2002). The Beatles: The Dream is Over. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-9199-5.
- Badman, Keith (2001). The Beatles Diary Volume 2: After the Break Up 1970–2001. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-8307-0.
- Tragical History Tour - the official Rutles web page
- Rutlemania - the real-life history of the Rutles
- David Christie's Doo Dah Diaries - Project to compile the complete history of the Bonzos including Neil Innes and The Rutles
- The Rutles section of Neil Innes' website
- skyjude - movie legends