About The Rutles
The Rutles are a rock band known for their visual and aural pastiches and parodies of the Beatles. This originally fictional band, created by Eric Idle and Neil Innes for 1970s television programming, became an actual group – whilst remaining a parody of the Beatles – which toured and recorded, releasing many songs and albums that included two UK chart hits.
Originally created as a short sketch in Idle's British television comedy series Rutland Weekend Television, the Rutles gained notice after being the focus of the mockumentary television film All You Need Is Cash . Former Beatle George Harrison appeared in the film and assisted in its creation. Encouraged by the positive public reaction to the sketch, featuring Beatles' music pastiches by Innes, the film was written by Idle, who co-directed it with Gary Weis. It had 20 songs written by Innes, which he performed with three musicians as the Rutles. A soundtrack album in 1978 was followed in 1996 by Archaeology, which spoofed the then recent Beatles Anthology series.
A second film, The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch – modelled on the 2000 TV special The Beatles Revolution – was made in 2002 and released in the US on DVD in 2003.
The Rutles first appeared in 1975 as a sketch on Eric Idle's BBC television series Rutland Weekend Television. The sketch presented a mini-documentary about the 1960s band the Rutles, and featured Neil Innes fronting the band singing "I Must Be In Love", a pastiche of Lennon and McCartney's 1964 style. However although not billed as the Rutles, Innes had already appeared in episode 3 of Rutland Weekend Television accompanying himself on a piano singing "Good Times Roll" which would later appear on The Rutles album released in 1978.
The sketch was the work of Innes and Idle. Innes conceived parodying the film A Hard Day's Night after writing "I Must Be In Love", which he realised sounded very "Beatle-y". Innes was the musician and composer for the series, and routinely created songs and ideas about how those songs could be presented on the show. He passed the idea along of a Beatles spoof to Idle, who had a separate idea about a boring TV documentary maker. They then merged the ideas into one extended film shot for the TV show. The band name was a continuation of the regional premise of the TV show, which was presented as a programme by a fictional TV station based in Rutland, the smallest county in England. One running joke was that it would use names derivative of Rutland. The initial idea was a parody of the Rolling Stones called the Rutland Stones but became a parody of the Beatles, and Idle suggested the Rutles. 'The Prefab Four' is a pun on the Beatles' nickname 'the Fab Four' with an additional subtext: a prefab was a cheap postwar form of British housing, intended to be temporary, often poorly constructed, draughty and leaky, and not well-regarded by those who had to live in them.
The Rutles had connections with the Beatles aside from the parody. The Beatles were fans of Innes's previous band, the Bonzo Dog Band; they featured them in the television film Magical Mystery Tour , and Paul McCartney had produced the Bonzos' hit single "I'm the Urban Spaceman" . George Harrison made a guest appearance on Rutland Weekend Television's 1975 Boxing Day special, with Idle and Innes, and encouraged them to make a film that parodied the Beatles' career and deflated the myths surrounding the band's legacy.
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