From these streets, very close to the Cavern Rutland, came the fabulous Rutland sound, created by the Pre-Fab Four; Dirk, Nasty, Stig and Barry, who created a musical legend that will last a lunchtime. They were discovered by their manager, Leggy Mountbatten, in a lunchtime disco very close to these streets. Their first album was made in 20 minutes. Their second album took even longer.
Yes, tonight, we examine the entire legend of the Rutles! But...where did the story start? The answer is...right here. On this very spot, Dirk McQuickly and Ron Nasty first bumped into each other. At this precise point...uhh, just a few feet back here, Ron Nasty invited Dirk to help him stand up. Dirk, merely an amateur drinker, agreed, and here it was, a few feet back there, a musical legend was created.
I'm standing in the world's naughtiest street. The notorious Reeperbahn, Hamburg. For four hungry working class lads, there are worse places than prison. And the Rat Keller, Hamburg, is one of them. This is where they found themselves, far from home, and far from talented. Inside here, is where they actually played. Come with me now, inside, or as the Germans say: "Mit mir gekommen", inside.
In those early days, there was a fifth Rutle: Leppo. A friend of Nasty's from art college, who mainly used to stand at the back. He couldn't play the guitar, but he knew how to have a good time, and in Hamburg, that was more important.
I'm standing in the original Rat Keller, and indeed, these are some of the original rats.
It was to this small backroom, when Nasty, Dirk, Stig, Barry and Leppo came to relax, when they weren't upstairs, entertaining the other rats dining in the other Rat Keller. Here, they had bed and breakfast. There's the bed. The breakfast, of course, long since gone. Rodently chewed, mouse-masticated, in a word: eaten by rats.
Incidentally, "Rat Keller" means, literally in german, "Cellar of rats". That's not "Seller of rats", a seller of rats, a person who sells rats for a living to another man as it were, of course not. That means, a cellar of rats. Indeed, one might say that this was a cellar full...of Ratles.
I'm actually standing outside the actual hotel in which the Rutles actually stayed, in 1964. Actually, in this room here. And it was actually inside this actual room that I actually spoke to the actual Paul Simon.
Che Stadium; named after the Cuban guerilla leader Che Stadium. And it was here, in 1965, that the Rutles came...well, not here in the carpark obviously, but back there in the stadium.
In 1966, the Rutles faced the biggest threat to their careers: Nasty, in a widely quoted interview, apparently had claimed the Rutles were bigger than God, and had gone on to say that God had never had a hit record.
The story spread like wildfire in America. Many fans burned their albums. Many more burnt their fingers attempting to burn their albums. Album sales sky-rocketed. People were buying them just to burn them. But in fact, it was all a ghastly mistake: Nasty, talking to a slightly deaf journalist, had claimed only that the Rutles were bigger than Rod. Rod Stewart would not be big for another 8 years.
Nasty apologized to Rod, God and the press, and the tour went ahead as planned. But it would be their last.
At the end of it, they met Bob Dylan in the idyllic San Francisco of the mid-60's, and he introduced them to a strange substance that was to have an enormous effect on them: Tea. Despite the warnings that it would lead to stronger things, the Rutles enjoyed the pleasant effects of tea. And it influenced enormously their greatest work, "Sgt. Rutter".
The release of this album, a millstone in pop music history, contributed greatly to an idyllic summer of bells, flowers and tea-drinking. Its music led thousands to experiment with tea.
Stig, meanwhile, had fallen under the influence of Arthur Sultan, the "Surrey Mystic". And Sultan had introduced Stig to his ouija board work.
But while the Rutles sat at the feet of the Surrey Mystic, fate dealt them an appalling blow. It was here that they learned the shocking news of their manager. Leggy Mountbatten, tired and despondent over the weekend and unable to raise any friends, went home and tragically...accepted a teaching post in Australia.
It's significant that their first major flop, the "Tragical History Tour", immediately followed the loss of Leggy. It was not the strongest idea for a Rutles film: Four Oxford history professors on a hitch-hiking tour of teashops in the Rutland area, and it was slammed mercilessly by the press.
I'm sitting in a rented limousine in New York. And it was here...well, not in the limousine obviously, but in New York, that the Rutles came in 1968 to announce the formation of Rutle Corps.
Personal problems now began to split the Rutles into smithereens. They would sing together, but they wouldn't talk. Pretty soon, they wouldn't even sing. By March 1969, things had gotten so bad within the group, that both Dirk and Nasty got married. Not to each other, of course...to women.
Dirk had become enamoured of 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, just to be on the safe side.
Nasty, meanwhile, visited an exhibition of broken art at the Pretentious Gallery, Soho. The art exhibits had all been dropped out of tall buildings and then put on display. Amongst the little piles of rubble, Nasty found the artist herself; Chastity, a simple German girl, whose father had invented World War II. Chastity fascinated him with her destructo-art. They talked all through the night, as 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 a shower.
Stig, meanwhile, had hidden in the background so much, that in 1969, a rumour went around that he was dead. He was supposed to have been killed in a flash fire at a waterbed shop, and replaced by a plastic and wax replica from Madame Tussaud's. Several so-called "facts" helped the emergence of this rumour; One: he never said anything publicly. Even as "the Quiet One", he hadn't said a word since 1966. Two: on the cover of their latest album, "Shabby Road", he is wearing no trousers, an Italian way of indicating death. Three: Nasty, supposedly sings "I buried Stig" on "I Am the Waitress". In fact, he sings "E burres stigano", which is very bad Spanish for "Have you a water buffalo?" Four: On the cover of the "Sgt. Rutter" album, Stig is leaning in the exactly same position of a dying Yeti from the Rutland Book of the Dead. Five: If you sing the title of "Sgt. Rutter's Only Darts Club Band" backwards, it's supposed to sound very like "Stig has been dead for ages, honestly." In fact, it sounds uncannily like "Dnab Bulc Strad Ylno srettur Sgt". Palpable nonsense.
Stig, was of course, far from dead. But not, in fact, far from Esher. He'd fallen in bed with Gertrude Strange, a large-breasted, biologically acommodating American girl, whose father had invented the limpet mine. When they met, it was lust at first sight.
Barry, meanwhile, had also spent a year in bed, as a tax dodge. Eric Manchester thinks he'd either received appalling financial advice, or he was desperately trying to start a "Barry is also dead" rumour.
At the final meeting, 134 legal people and accountants, filed into a small 8x10 room. Only 87 came out alive. The black hole of Savile Row had taken toll of some of the finest merchant banking brains of the generation. Luckily, that's not very serious. But the Rutles were obviously self-destructing fast.
In the midst of all this public bickering, "Let It Rot" was released as a film, an album and a lawsuit. In 1970, Dirk sued Stig, Nasty and Barry. Barry sued Dirk, Nasty and Stig. Nasty sued Barry, Dirk and Stig, and Stig sued himself, accidentally. It was the beginning of a golden era for lawyers. But for the Rutles, live on a London rooftop, it was the beginning of the end.
Sixteen years after the fresh-faced Pre-fab Four first burst into the public eye, and 8 years after they split up, just where are the Rutles today? Dirk has formed, with his wife Martini, a punk rock group, called "The Punk Floyd". He sings, and she doesn't. Nasty has turned his back on the world, and sits with his thoughts and his memories. Barry is a hairdresser in the Reading area, with two fully equipped salons of his own. While Stig works for Air India. As an air hostess.
Barry Wom: Uh, I'd like to be a hairdresser. Or two. I'd like to be two hairdressers.
Ron Nasty: I'd like to own a squadron of tanks.
Interviewer:Yeah, they're very nice, you know.
Narrator: Roger McGough is a Liverpool poet. He is the author of many books set in and around Liverpool, including: "Merseysound", "Gig", "The Liverpool Scene" and two of his Liverpool Poems are in the Oxford Book of 20th Century English Verse. He was born in Liverpool, attended school in Liverpool, was even married in Liverpool, and his football team is of course Everton. He is a member of The Scaffold, a light comedy group that played the Cavern in the early 60's. And during those incredible years he lived, wrote, loved, watched football and drank in Liverpool. Roger, did you know the Rutles?
Roger McGough: Oh yes, yes.
Narrator: Roger McGough, Liverpool poet, writer, author, humorist and a man who knew the Rutles.
Sleazy Merchandiser: We felt every girl in America would want to sleep with a Rutle. Yes, we have a complete line of Rutles, all ready to go. The Rutle t-shirt, the Rutle plate, the Rutle cup, the Rutle acne cream, the Rutle hairclips; all a complete line of Rutle products. All I need for you is just your word, and we're in business.
Leggy Mountbatten: We're in business?
Sleazy Merchandiser: I like the way you work.
Narrator: Brian Thigh was a top record executive in London, in 1962. Mr. Thigh, you'be been known for many, many years as the man who turned down the Rutles.
Brian Thigh: Yeah, that's right.
Narrator: You said the guitar groups were on their way out and would never make any money at all in the 60's.
Brian Thigh: Yes, I did.
Narrator: You turned your back on all those millions of sales, all those hundreds of gold records.
Brian Thigh: *cough* Yeah, yeah, that's right.
Narrator: What's it like to be such an asshole?
Brian Thigh: What!?
Interviewer: Some people say you've been staying away from Liverpool, and now you're famous.
Ron Nasty: Oh, we haven't been staying away so much as not coming here.
Interviewer: Uh, some people say it's six months since you came back here.
Ron Nasty: That's just the sort of thing some people would say.
Interviewer: No, it's been six months.
Ron Nasty: Now you're saying it, why don't you ask me where I've been?
Interviewer: Where have you been?
Ron Nasty: I'm not telling ya.
Ron Nasty: That's all I said, you know. Now all this has to happen.
Journalist: What do you think it proves?
Ron Nasty: I think it proves you're all daft. Suppose I'll get in trouble for saying that now.
Dirk McQuickly: Well, we're shocked.
Ron Nasty: Yeah, shocked.
Barry Wom: Shocked.
Dirk McQuickly: And stunned.
Ron Nasty: Yeah, stunned.
Barry Wom: Very stunned.
Journalist: Did Arthur Sultan have any words of encouragement for you?
Ron Nasty: No.
Dirk McQuickly: Well, yeah.
Ron Nasty: Well, yeah, and no. He said that it took all sorts to make a world, and that we shouldn't worry unduly about where he'd gone.
Dirk McQuickly: You know, we shouldn't be covered with grief at thoughts of Australia.
Ron Nasty: He did say that we could still keep in touch with him, you know, by tapping the table.
Dirk McQuickly: And postcards.
Barry Wom: Very stunned.
Dirk McQuickly: Very stunned.
Dirk McQuickly: We're here in New York to announce the formation of Rutle Corps. Nasty and I have come over, on behalf of the other Rutles...
Ron Nasty: Yeah, they couldn't come.
Dirk McQuickly: Yeah. We're setting up Rutle Corps. as a kind of enterprise, that people can come to us and we'll help them, we'll give them money. You know, if they want money, they just come to us.
Ron Nasty: Yeah, instead of going to a bank. You know, we want to help people to help themselves.
Journalist: What are you doing this for?
Ron Nasty: We're doing this for peace and basically to show that the world, you know, is going astray in its thinking.
Journalist: What are you doing?
Ron Nasty: We are getting wet in a shower, because basically, we've talked it over, Chastity and meself, and we came to the conclusion that civilization is nothing more than an effective sewage system; it's all about the use of plumbing. We hope to demonstrate this to the world.