This looks legit.
Ron Nasty first met Dirk McQuickly in January 1959, at the now-historical address of 43 Egg Lane, Liverpool. Having joined up with Stig O’Hara (a guitarist of no fixed hairstyle), they started playing as a trio. After 18 months, they discovered drummer Barrington Womble (whom they persuaded to change his name to Barry Wom to save time, and his hairstyle to save Brylcreem) hiding in their van, and the classic line-up of the Rutles was completed.
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 a one-legged retail chemist from Bolton, Leggy Mountbatten, 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 nineteen out of the top twenty 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” of Flushing, New York, while Ron Nasty’s book of comic prose, Out Of Me Head, dominated the best-seller lists. In July of that year, the group released its first motion picture, A Hard Day’s Rut. 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.
More bad news followed for the group. 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.
In April 1968, the group launched their new 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.
The Rutles albums:
Please Rut Me (1963)
With The Rutles (1963)
A Hard Day’s Rut (1964)
Rutles for Sale (1964)
Rutle Soul (1965)
Sgt. Rutter’s Only Darts Club Band (1967)
Tragical History Tour (1967)
The Rutles (1968)
Yellow Submarine Sandwich (1969)
Shabby Road (1969)
Let It Rut (1970)
Rolling Stone Magazine: “Listen, looking at it very simply musicologicly and ethnically, the Rutles were essentially imperical malengistes of a rhythmically radical, yet verbally passé and temporally transcended, lyrical content welded with historically innovative melodical material transposed and transmogrified by the angst of the Rutland ethic experience, which elevated them from essentially alpha exponents of, in essence, merely beta potential harmonic material into the prime cultural exponents of Aeolian cadence comic stanza form.” — Stanley J. Krammerhead (Eric Idle)