The Rutles Story Page 2


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.

Dirk admits to the press to taking tea

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 Rutles react to the loss of Leggy

  
"Stunned..."
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.


Nasty and Dirk in New York City

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.

Nasty and Dirk announce Rutles Corps

The pilfering from Rutle Corps was on a monumental scale, typewriters, TV sets, telephones, cars, even offices disappeared overnight.

During this time, Dirk married Martini, a french actress who spoke no english and precious little french. When they married in London, the service was conducted in Spanish, Italian and Chinese, to be on the safe side.

  
Nasty, meanwhile, vistied an exhibition of broken art at The Pretentious Gallery in Soho. The art had all been dropped out of tall buildings and put on display. Amongst the little piles of rubble, Nasty found the artist herself, Chastity, a simple little german girl, who's father had invented World War Two. Chasitity fascinated him with her destructo-art. They talked all though all the night, while she outlined her plans to drop artists out of planes. Nasty adored her. They announced their engagement next day, at a press conference held in his shower.

Nasty and Charity sit in the shower for peace

Stig, meanwhile, had hidden in the background so much that in 1969 a rumour went around that he was dead. (See the Is Stig Dead? page.) Stig was of course, far from dead. Although not far from London. He had fallen in bed with Gertrude Strange, a large-breasted, biologically accomodating American girl who's father had invented the limpet mine. When Stig met her it was lust at first site. They retired to his bungalow where he woke up exhausted a year later to find that Gertrude was gone, leaving only some crumbs in the bed and a lot of torn sheets. She left no forwarding address, no farewell notes, but also luckily no children.

Barry meanwhile had also spent a year in bed as a tax dodge. Eric Manchester, the Rutles press agent, thinks that he either had appalling financial advice or he was deperately trying to start a "Barry is also dead" rumour. When he finally got up to answer the telephone, Rutle Corps was in a perilous financial state.

Nasty had flown back in a hurry from his honeymoon to meet Ron Decline, the most feared promoter in the world, in an attempt to settle Rutle Corps' appalling financial problems.

Unfortunately, Stig was now accepting the financial advice of Billy Kodak, Dirk had hired Arnold Schwarzenweisengreenenbluenbraunenburger to handle his end of the name, and Barry was consulting the I Ching every three and a half minutes.

In the midst of this public and legal wrangling Let It Rot was released as a film, an album, and a lawsuit. It showed the Rutles as never before; tired, unhappy, cross, and just like the rest of the world.

In December 1970 Dirk sued Stig and Nasty, Barry sued Dirk, Nasty sued Stig and Barry, and Stig sued himself accidentally. It was the end of a golden era, and the beginning of another one for lawyers everywhere.


What became of the Rutles?

 
Nasty on Saturday Night Live
 
Barry became a hairdresser with two fully equipped salons of his own. Stig went to work for Air India as an air hostess. Dirk with 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.



This page last enhanced September 21, 1997

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