The Rutles: A Look Back at Dirk, Nasty, Stig and Barry


The early 60’s were not especially kind to The Rutles. Languishing in the Rutland Cavern for years, it wasn’t until 1975 when this relatively unknown British pop group fronted by Neil Innes appeared on Rutland Weekend Television singing “I Must Be In Love” from their 1965 album, A Hard Days Rut, that The Rutles began their assault on the world. Innes had recently left the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, a 60’s British rock band made up of a group of British art-school lads. Innes’ band had already reached the pinnacle of success when they appeared in the 1967 Beatles film, Magical Mystery Tour.
 

 
Unlike the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Dirk, Nasty, Stig and Barry (The Rutles) had nowhere to go but up. Created by former Monty Python members Eric Idle and Neil Innes, the band was originally to be named The Rutland Stones, taking their name from Rutland, the smallest county in England, however Idle and Innes settled on The Rutles and the rest, as they say, is history.

Following their appearance on Rutland Weekend Television, interest in The Rutles began to skyrocket. In 1976, Eric Idle appeared on Saturday Night Live in the U.S. gaining the attention of producer Lorne Michaels who placed the world at The Rutles’ feet with the suggestion of a long-form mocumentary film, All You Need Is Cash. It was at that point in 1978, three years after that fortuitous RTW appearance and subsequent later meeting with Michaels that The Rutles achieved overnight success. The album from the film was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Comedy Recording of the Year in 1978 and later became the inspiration for Rob Reiner’s comedy film, This Is Spinal Tap, in 1984.
 

 
All You Need Is Cash, which featured 19 songs written by Innes, illustrated The Rutles story from start to finish. Also featured in the film was Dan Aykroyd as the man who turned down The Rutles, John Belushi as Ron Decline, Bill Murray as Bill Murray The K, Gilda Radner as a reluctant street interviewee, George Harrison as a TV interviewer, Michael Palin as a member of Rutle Corps, Ron Wood as a biker, Lorne Michaels as a man who wants to merchandise The Rutles, Al Franken and Tom Davis as Ron Decline employees and both Mick Jagger and Paul Simon as themselves. If you haven’t seen this it’s a must see, even though it’s been 35 years since it was filmed.

Early Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band appearance on Do Not Adjust Your Set

I think I have a new favorite band. I wonder what a Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band created station on Pandora would sound like….