The Paul Simon Interview

QUESTION: Paul, when did you first hear of the Rutles?

PAUL: I was in England in early 1963 and this friend of mine said had I heard of the Rutles? I said no I hadn't and he said the Rutles were the biggest thing in England and that there were riots wherever they appeared and I remember thinking that it was such a weird name for a group, the Rutles it didn't make any sense to me at all. So the first time I saw them was on the Ed Sullivan show and Ed was saying "Calm down everyone, calm down now we can't hear," and they opened the show and they also closed the show which I think was astute planning on Sullivan's part. Clearly everyone had tuned into that week's show just to see the Rutles.

QUESTION: Did you ever see signs of Rutlemania?

PAUL: Oh yeh, particularly in the north of England. There were music newspapers, I don't remember the names--Mersey Beat, Rutle Beat, there might have been one called Rutlemania, but they were just focused on the activities of the Rutles. Then they put out a fan magazine for Rutles fans that you could subscribe to and get it every month you know--Rutles activities and what new Rutles records were coming out, and at Christmastime they would send out a Rutles record that other people couldn't get, only their fans, and they were usually funny. I think it was mostly Nasty that did that kind of thing.

QUESTION: Tell me about the Sgt. Rutter album?

PAUL: Well of course the main thing that comes to mind with the Sgt. Rutter album is getting stoned and listening to it with earphones, particularly the chord that lasted forever and the backwards tapes.

QUESTION: Did it affect your work at all?


QUESTION: When did you first meet the Rutles?

PAUL: I met Nasty two days after I met Dirk. They were together and we were screening some avant-garde film in a hotel in London. He was there and Dirk was carrying his portable tape machine with him and whoever he spoke to he'd put the microphone out in front of them and it was extremely intimidating. I was intimidated anyway to be in the same room with them. Nasty was very quiet, but very fascinating to watch, almost like a cartoon character. Several years later I met Stig and we went to see Rabbi Shankar at the Royal Albert Hall. He was very close with Rabbi Shankar and we had a drink afterwards and talked a while.

QUESTION: Did that influence your music?


QUESTION: What do you think their place is in musical history?

PAUL: It's probably easier to place them sociologically as a phenomenon than to judge them at this point musically as to where they'll stand. Certainly they would be like any other enormous popular music phenomenons Sinatra, Presley and then the Rutles. People say who will be the next Rutles you know. I don't think there will be the next Rutles. I think it will be something else you know, some entirely new transformation.

QUESTION: Did the Rutles influence you at all?


QUESTION: Did they influence Art Garfunkel?

PAUL: Who?

This page created July 1, 1996.

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