Follow TV Tropes


Music / The Rutles

Go To
The Pre-Fab Four.
Standing, from left to right: Dirk McQuickly (Eric Idle), Stig O'Hara (Ricky Fataar), Ron Nasty (Neil Innes). Seated: Barry Wom (John Halsey).

"...a legend that will last a lunchtime..."
The Narrator (Eric Idle) in The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash

The Rutles were a Fake Band who produced real music that parodied/satirized that of The Beatles. They're the subject of The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash, a 1978 Mocku-Rockumentary that tells their story from their founding to the present. Eric Idle played an accident-prone narrator, as well as the Rutles' bassist Dirk McQuickly (although he lip-synced his performances, with the actual singing performed by Ollie Halsall, who died in 1992). The rest of the "Pre-Fab Four" were rhythm guitarist Ron Nasty, performed by Neil Innes; lead guitarist Stig O'Hara, performed by erstwhile Beach Boys member Ricky Fataar; and drummer Barry Wom, performed by John Halsey.

The ersatz group first appeared in a 1975 sketch on Idle's post-Python BBC2 sketch show Rutland Weekend Television, a program that ranged from Funny Moments to So Okay, It's Average. One of the show's strengths was its musical numbers, most of which were written by Innes, perviously a core member of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and an occasional supporting act with Monty Python. In the sketch, the Rutles were born from a psychiatric patient who was sick with love songs (It Makes Sense in Context — sort of). Neil Innes played the patient, singing "I Must Be in Love," which directly segued into a parody of A Hard Day's Night combined with the Beatles' debut appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Because RWT was the source of the band's name, the u is short — "Rut-les."

When Eric Idle guest-hosted Saturday Night Live a year later, he brought over two RWT segments to air as shorts: "Pommy", a parody of Tommy, in which the hero tries to escape from a Ken Russell film, and the Rutles. Idle was especially proud of Pommy, but naturally Lorne Michaels chose the Rutles; SNL was in the midst of publicly "wooing" the Beatles to reunite on the show. The short proved to be a wild success, with many viewers calling in to ask about the Rutles (some of them even believing they were actually the Beatles incognito). After Idle returned to England, he began writing a feature-length Mockumentary for the BBC, but when Michaels offered him a larger budget with NBC, he committed to doing it with them.note  The film was actually constructed as a parody of the Beatles episode of All You Need is Love, a documentary series about popular music which was quite successful at the time.

The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash was perhaps the first SNL spinoff to be made, but because of its initial failure and the nature of its rehabilitation, they aren't consistently linked. When it originally aired on NBC, it was the lowest-rated program on that night. (Apparently, it aired just before the revival of Beatlemania.) It has since been Vindicated by History and Vindicated by Cable. It is also important because it was one of the few films about the Beatles (more or less) to be made before John Lennon was killed and got the Posthumous Popularity Potential effect.

The story that The Rutles tells parallels the history of The Beatles closely, if inexactly. There are side-stories about how The Rutles affected the wider world, which is, in fact, more than anyone, including the narrator, will admit.

There was a Contested Sequel in 2002, Can't Buy Me Lunch. It was made with outtakes from the first film, with some new footage with Eric Idle's Narrator and a host of new interviewees tying them together. There were also albums; besides the soundtrack to the first film, there was Archaeology in 1996, timed to compete with the Beatles' Anthology (and made without Idle's involvement; Halsall's vocals were featured on two tracks created from 1978 rehearsals, making them the last Rutles songs released with his involvement). It did surprisingly well, considering the competition.

In 2010, a fan released the Rutles' equivalent of the Beatles' Love, entitled Lunch. It can be streamed at the official site for the project.

Unfortunately, Innes passed away on December 29, 2019, all but ending the hope of any additional new Rutles material.

For more Beatles Affectionate Parody goodness, see Utopia's album Deface the Music. For another comical take on the Beatles story, see the novel Paperback Writer.

Since Wikipedia has sporadically been removing and re-adding the lists of tracks parodied by each individual Rutles track, both albums' track lists are reproduced here with said notes:


The Rutles

  1. "Goose-Step Mama" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 2:18 ("Some Other Guy", "I Saw Her Standing There", "One After 909"; overall style mimics the Beatles' early performances in Hamburg and the Cavern Club)
  2. "Number One" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 2:52 ("Twist and Shout", "It Won't Be Long", "I Saw Her Standing There")
  3. "Baby Let Me Be" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 1:57 ("Slow Down", "Some Other Guy", "Roll Over Beethoven")
  4. "Hold My Hand" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 2:11 ("Eight Days a Week", "She Loves You", "All My Loving", "I Want to Hold Your Hand", "Please Please Me")
  5. "Blue Suede Schubert" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 2:13 ("Roll Over Beethoven", "Boys")
  6. "I Must Be in Love" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 2:06 (The film, "A Hard Day's Night", "If I Needed Someone", "From Me To You", "Ticket to Ride", "Tell Me Why")
  7. "With a Girl Like You" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 1:53 ("If I Fell")
  8. "Between Us" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 2:03 ("Baby It's You", "And I Love Her", "Till There Was You", "If I Fell")
  9. "Living in Hope" (Womble) - 2:39 ("Don't Pass Me By", "Octopus's Garden", "Act Naturally", "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Honey Don't")
  10. "Ouch!" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 1:52 ("Help!")
  11. "It's Looking Good" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 2:02 ("I'm Down", "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party", "I'm Looking Through You", "I'm a Loser", "Act Naturally")
  12. "Doubleback Alley" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 2:57 ("Penny Lane")
  13. "Good Times Roll" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 3:05 ("Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "You Never Give Me Your Money")
  14. "Nevertheless" (O'Hara) - 1:29 ("Love You To", "Within You Without You", "The Inner Light")
  15. "Love Life" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 2:52 ("All You Need Is Love", "Magical Mystery Tour")
  16. "Piggy in the Middle" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 4:11 ("I Am the Walrus", "Piggies")
  17. "Another Day" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 2:13 ("Martha My Dear", "Don't Bother Me")
  18. "Cheese and Onions" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 2:42 ("A Day in the Life", "Across the Universe")
  19. "Get Up and Go" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 3:19 ("Get Back")
  20. "Let's Be Natural" (Nasty/McQuickly) - 3:22 ("Julia", "Dear Prudence", "Mother Nature's Son", "Strawberry Fields Forever", "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)")


  1. "Major Happy's Up-and-Coming Once Upon a Good Time Band" - 2:19 ("Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band")
  2. "Rendezvous" - 2:06 ("With a Little Help from My Friends", with backing vocals reminiscent of "Good Day Sunshine")
  3. "Questionnaire" - 2:41 (Musically a composite of "The Fool on the Hill", "Imagine", and "I Am the Walrus", with pointed lyrics referring to Lennon's assassination and gun-ownership laws)
  4. "We've Arrived! (And to Prove It We're Here)" - 2:09 (Rutles versions of "Back in the U.S.S.R." and "Flying" with a "Revolution 9" reference in the ending) (taped 1978 rehearsal featuring Halsall)
  5. "Lonely-Phobia" - 2:35 (Acoustic ballads from A Hard Day's Night era, especially "Things We Said Today" and "I'll Be Back", but also takes liberally from McCartney's solo song "Mrs Vandebilt"; may also contain references to "Spanish" chord progression used in early rehearsal versions of "I Me Mine" and to guitar riffs from McCartney/Wings song "Deliver Your Children")
  6. "Unfinished Words" - 2:08 (A play on the anecdote about "Yesterday" and its 'scrambled eggs' dummy lyrics, setting numerous lyrical references to Martin Lewis's 'fake Beatles outtakes' hoax set to a tune resembling "Nowhere Man" and "In My Life". The recording style - and title - are Shout Outs to "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love", which were completed by the surviving Beatles from John's unfinished demos.)
  7. "Hey Mister!" - 3:18 (Broadly similar to "I Me Mine", "Yer Blues", and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"; references "Helter Skelter" at the ending; melody and chord-structure echo "Norwegian Wood", with nods to "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" in its "hey!" calls)
  8. "Easy Listening" - 2:09 (An old Innes composition, either from the stage show Neil Innes Is Joe Public or from the stage show More Jam Tomorrow, rearranged as a pastiche of "Octopus's Garden" with some suggestions of "Don't Pass Me By" and "Act Naturally", with a lyrical reference to McCartney's "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?")
  9. "Now She's Left You" - 2:03 (A pastiche of "I Don't Want to Spoil The Party" and "You're Going to Lose That Girl" written for the original film but unused; in 1981 a doo-wop arrangement of this song was featured on Innes' TV series The Innes Book of Records) (taped 1978 rehearsal featuring Halsall)
  10. "The Knicker Elastic King" - 2:39 (A 1981 composition by Innes, rearranged in the style of "Getting Better" with a quotation from "Polythene Pam". The horn solo ostensibly comprises Eric Spear's theme from Coronation Street, referencing Wings' cover of the theme from Crossroads. The spoken middle-eight homages the Yellow Submarine film and Ringo Starr's children's TV narration.)
  11. "I Love You" - 2:18 (Elements of "It's Only Love" and "And I Love Her")
  12. "Eine Kleine Middle Klasse Musik" - 4:24 (A 1992 Innes composition rearranged in the style of "Come Together", with a Rhodes riff borrowed from "Maybe I'm Amazed"; vocal and piano sound recall "I Am the Walrus"; the play-out section is a call back to Lennon's own "Cleanup Time")
  13. "Joe Public" - 4:03 (A 1985 Innes song from the stage show Neil Innes Is Joe Public, rearranged in the style of "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "Rain", with Fataar singing lead; it features Indian instruments and a meandering string session reminiscent of "Within You, Without You")
  14. "Shangri-La" - 7:43 (A 1977 Innes song newly infused with a great many Pepper/Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles references and a new "Hey Jude"-style coda. "A Day in the Life" forms the backbone of the song, which variously transforms into "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" amongst others, features a chorus suggested by "All You Need Is Love", "Magical Mystery Tour", and "Hey Jude", and contains a horn riff taken directly from "For No One"; the intro quotes Oasis's "Whatever", in reference to EMI's successful plagiarism lawsuit against that song's melodic similarity to Innes' 1973 single "How Sweet to Be an Idiot")
  15. "Don't Know Why" - 3:44 (Written a year in advance of the album for the TV show Rory Bremner: Who Else, directly pastiching "Free as a Bird", and referencing Innes' then-current hardships relating to the original Rutles project, including his losing of the ATV lawsuit and his fractious relationship with Eric Idle)
  16. "Back in '64" - 3:14 (An answer song to "When I'm Sixty-Four", written from a 1996 perspective, with a solo reminiscent of the Moog lines in "Maxwell's Silver Hammer". The "zum zum zum zum" backing vocals reference those of Innes' 1977 song "Crystal Balls".)

The Pre-Fab Tropes:

  • Adolf Hitlarious: A mild variant: "Goose-Step Mama" (the pastiche for the kind of songs the Beatles performed during their early career in Germany) and Chastity being implied to be a Nazi are Played for Laughs, of course. Lennon was a bit worried on the latter count (his only reservation about the film), but when even Yoko Ono herself found it hilarious, he gave it his approval.
  • Affectionate Parody: Eric Idle was a huge fan of the Beatles and a close friend of George Harrison, who appears in a cameo as a reporter. Neil Innes clearly was a huge fan too, given the familiarity it would have taken with their material to write songs and arrangements like these just from his memory of what the songs sounded like (he deliberately wasn't listening to their material when he wrote the Rutles' songs, just so he wouldn't be plagiarising the Beatles).note 
  • Ambiguously Gay: According to Leggy Mountbatten's mother, Mrs. Iris Mountbatten, he became interested in The Rutles because he loved their... tight trousers... which left nothing... to the imagination. ("Everything was perfectly outlined.") Besides that comment, however, Leggy isn't shown demonstrating any attraction to men (or any gender, for that matter).
  • Animated Music Video: One for "Cheese and Onions," done In the Style of Yellow Submarine and even animated by some of the same artists.
  • Answer Song: "Back in '64" essentially serves this purpose to the Beatles' "When I'm Sixty-Four".
  • As Himself: Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, and Liverpool poet/playwright Roger McGough appear as themselves in cameos, being interviewed by the narrator (although McGough doesn't manage to get a word in). Eric Idle even noted that Jagger was probably more talkative and relaxed waxing about the Rutles than he would be if interviewed about the Beatles.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: When describing the "Paul Is Dead"-like Urban Legend Stig has been subject to, the narrator says that one of the "clues" it proclaims is that the band supposedly sings "I buried Stig" on "I Am the Waitress." The narrator then says that it's actually "E burres stigano," which according to him is Spanish for "Have you a water buffalo?" In reality, it doesn't sound even remotely close to anything in Spanish. (Though the narrator does admit that it was "very bad Spanish".)
  • Bigger Than Jesus: Ron Nasty caused controversy when he claimed The Rutles were "bigger than God." Ron, speaking to a slightly deaf journalist, actually said that they were "bigger than Rod," as in Rod Stewart. Rod Stewart would not make it big for another eight years. The protests and album burnings that were sparked by Ron's comment are said to have seen the sales of Rutles albums and merchandise skyrocket as people were buying their products just to have them destroyed. While the movie plays this for laughs, it's actually very reflective of the Real Life protests against The Beatles.
  • Blatant Lies:
  • Blind Black Guy: Blind Lemon Pye, the New Orleans bluesman who supposedly inspired their music. In fact, after working on the railroad for years, the Rutles inspired him to get into music. And, as he put it, "I've been starving ever since."
  • The British Invasion: The Rutles were naturally part of this in-universe.
  • Call-Back: Just as "She Loves You" gets quoted in the fade of "All You Need Is Love", "Hold My Hand" gets a Shout-Out at the end of "Love Life".
  • The Cameo:
    • As mentioned in As Himself, Mick Jagger, Paul Simon and Roger McGough appear as themselves as interviewees of the narrator.
    • Michael Palin appears as the Rutles' press agent Eric Manchester, an Expy of the Beatles' press agent Derek Taylor.
    • George Harrison appears as the man who interviews Eric Manchester. Doubles as Parody Assistance.
    • Mick's then-wife Bianca Jagger appears as Martini, Dirk McQuickly's wife.
    • Ronnie Wood appears as a Hells Angel.
    • Several Saturday Night Live personalities make cameos throughout the film: John Belushi as Ron Decline, Dan Aykroyd as Brian Thigh (the executive that turned down the Rutles), Gilda Radner as Mrs. Emily Pules (a woman interviewed on the street about the Rutles), Bill Murray as Bill Murray the K, Al Franken and Tom Davis as Ron Decline's henchmen, and SNL producer Lorne Michaels as a sleazy merchandiser.
    • Contested Sequel Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch contains character cameos from Robin Williams, Catherine O'Hara, Kevin Nealon, and Jimmy Fallon, and return appearance by Bill Murray as Bill Murray the K. Celebrities appearing as themselves in interviews (and playing along with the Rutles legend) include Tom Hanks, Salman Rushdie, Steve Martin, David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Peter Asher (of Peter & Gordon, who worked closely with Paul McCartney), Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, James Taylor (who was an early signing to Apple Records), Garry Shandling, and several others. Though almost no-one regards this sequel as fondly as the original, the assembled pop culture star power is one reason it has its defenders.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "The Rutles story is a legend. A living legend, a legend that will live long after lots of other living legends have died."
  • Don't Explain the Joke: The entire "Rat Seller/Cellar" bit.
    Narrator: 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 Rat-les.
  • The Dreaded: Ron Decline (John Belushi), the most feared promoter in the entire music industry. People would rather kill themselves than meet with him.
  • Driven to Suicide: Subverted; while the Rutles are off with Arthur Sultan, their manager Leggy Mountbatten, plagued by business failures and lonely, goes home and tragically...accepts a teaching job in Australia.
  • Dull Surprise: The group's reaction to Leggy Mountbatten moving to Australia is chock full of this.
    Narrator: It was a bombshell for the Rutles. They were shocked... and stunned.
    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.
  • Epic Fail:
    • Rutle Corps, the company the group starts to "help people to help themselves". As a result, so many people end up ripping the company off that, as the Narrator puts it, "they were losing money faster than the British government".
    • Also applies to a Rutles boutique they start. It ends up losing loads of money in a matter of weeks. The solution? Nasty blows up the place.
  • Epic Rocking: The nearly eight-minute-long "Shangri-La".
  • Fading into the Next Song/Siamese Twin Songs: "Major Happy's Up-and-Coming Once Upon a Good Time Band" into "Rendezvous" (parodying the Beatles' usage of the same technique with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "With a Little Help from My Friends"), and "Questionnaire" into "We've Arrived! (And to Prove It We're Here)" (probably referencing the Beatles' usage of the same technique with "Back in the U.S.S.R." and "Dear Prudence").
  • Fat Comic Relief: In the music video for "Ouch!", a chubby native goes after the band.
  • Feeling Their Age: An unstated implication of "Back in '64" is that it sucks to be old.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit:
    • When things went downhill, they all sued each other. Stig even sued himself, accidentally.
      Narrator: Let It Rot was released as a film, an album, and a lawsuit.
    • Earlier, Eric Manchester, the Rutles' press agent, described how, by that time, his entire day pretty much boiled down to filing suit against practically everyone.
  • G-Rated Drug: Tea.
  • I Know You Know I Know: The opening lines of "Piggy in the Middle".
    I know you know what you know
    But you should know by now that you're not me
  • Insane Troll Logic: Apparently, Stig has been hounded by a "Paul Is Dead"-like Urban Legend. The clues for it... stretch credulity, to say the least, as the narrator lampshades.
    Narrator: Stig, meanwhile, had hidden in the background so much that in 1969, a rumor 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 Tusseaud's. Several so-called "facts" helped the emergence of this rumor. One: he never said anything publicly. Even as the "quiet one," he'd not 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 exact 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 Ylno S'rettur Tnaegres." Palpable nonsense.
  • The Klutz: Dirk reaches an impressive level of klutzery in the "Let's Be Natural" sequence.
  • Living Legend: The band are supposedly a living legend that will live long after other living legends have died.
  • Musical Gag: "Love Life" opens with a brass/trumpet version of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". This is a nod to the song it's spoofing, "All You Need Is Love", opening with "La Marseillaise", the national anthem of France.
  • Musical Pastiche: What else were you expecting? And Innes is good at this; an unsuspecting listener could be forgiven for thinking that some of these are lost Beatles songs — they nail the style completely. Even the vocals are almost impossible to differentiate.
  • Mythology Gag: The fact that the "Paul Is Dead"-like Urban Legend is given to Stig O'Hara (the George Harrison analogue) instead of Dirk McQuickly (the Paul McCartney analogue) seems to be an artifact of the fact that on the original Rutland Weekend Television and Saturday Night Live sketches, it was Dirk who mocked George and Stig who lampooned Paul (with David Battley playing Stig instead of Ricky Fataar).
  • The Narrator: Eric Idle.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Rutles and those associated with them were thinly-veiled Captain Ersatz parodies of The Beatles and company.
    • Dirk McQuickly: Paul McCartney
    • Ron Nasty: John Lennon
    • Stig O'Hara: George Harrison
    • Barry Wom (Barrington Womble): Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey)
    • Leppo: Stuart Sutcliffe (although his status as invoked The Pete Best of the band also makes him one of... well, Pete Best. His name is even a reference to Zeppo Marx, The Pete Best of the Marx Brothers)
    • Dick Jaws: Dick James
    • Leggy Mountbatten: Brian Epstein
    • Ron Decline: Allen Klein
    • Brian Thigh, the music executive who turned down the Rutles: Dick Rowe, the music executive who turned down the Beatles
    • Eric Manchester: Derek Taylor
    • Bill Murray the K: Murray the K (played by Bill Murray himself)
    • Arthur Sultan: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
    • Corinthia: Cynthia Lennon
    • Chastity (Whose Father invented World War II): Yoko Ono
    • Oddly enough, Martini seems to be a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of her own actress. While the fact that she's Dirk McQuickly's wife would lead one to assume that she would be a parody of Paul McCartney's wife Linda McCartney, she doesn't resemble her at all. Instead, her being described as McQuickly's exotic French actress wife sounds closer to describing Martini's actress Bianca Jagger, who at the time was Mick Jagger's exotic Nicaraguan model wife. Also, it is implied that their wedding was something of an spectacle (it is said that since "she 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"), which also applies to Mick and Bianca's real life wedding in France; it became a media circus due to local law dictating that weddings must be open to the public.
  • No Fourth Wall: "Rendezvous" has Barry Wom arguing with the rest of the band (in song form) about why they're singing in the middle of his song.
  • Painted-On Pants: The Rutles (apparently) all wore tight trousers. Very tight trousers. Nothing left to the imagination.
  • Parody Assistance:
    • George Harrison not only referenced The Rutles on occasion, he even played the reporter who interviewed the Rutles' press agent Eric Manchester, the Expy of the Beatles' press agent Derek Taylor,note  in an interview that took place in front of the Rutles' HQ while people were walking off with stolen items in the background, and was also was the voice saying "This little piggy went to market" (backwards) on "Piggy in the Middle". Neil Innes, who played Ron Nasty and wrote the music, has said that "George was in it up to his neck", including being present at the initial play-through of the songs (his reaction to "A Girl Like You" was "That's a bit close, isn't it?").
    • John Lennon allegedly helped sequence the soundtrack album, and suggested the band should avoid including "Get Up and Go" because its note-for-note similarity to "Get Back" might cause legal issues. (He was right.) His version of the album, however, supposedly bumped so many songs for being 'too close' that the LP would've come out ridiculously short — which may explain the liner notes only including lyrics for nine songs!
    • The Animated Music Video for "Cheese and Onions" was created by several of the animators who worked on Yellow Submarine.
    • The filmmakers had access to the Beatles' archive decades before Anthology, down to using Stock Footage from actual screaming Beatles fans.
  • The Pete Best: In-universe: Leppo, the Fifth Rutle. Technically, Leppo was a spoof on deceased Beatles bassist Stuart Sutcliffe. Extended canon in the Rutles universe claims that their pre-Barry drummer was named Kevin. Leppo is also a reference to Zeppo Marx, The Pete Best of the Marx Brothers.
  • Pet the Dog: In-universe example. Mick Jagger mentions how the Rutles, particularly Dirk, helped out the up-and-coming Rolling Stones by writing a song for them note . Turns out to be a subversion, since the Stones played the song, decided it was horrible, and never recorded it.
  • The Quiet One: Taken to an extreme, in that Stig does not get a single line in the entire special.
    Narrator: [in regards of a "Paul Is Dead"-like urban legend about Stig] Several so-called "facts" helped the emergence of this rumor. One: he never said anything publicly. Even as the "quiet one," he'd not said a word since 1966.
  • Recut: Not for the film but for its soundtrack. The song order listed above reflects the CD release, where the songs are given an order reflecting the band's In-Universe chronology. The LP had a different order meant to mimic some of the song transitions on Beatles albums, which John Lennon himself is said to have assisted with selecting; the album sides mimicked the Beatles' 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 albums:
    • Side One:
      1. Hold My Hand
      2. Number One
      3. With a Girl Like You
      4. I Must Be in Love
      5. Ouch!
      6. Living in Hope
      7. Love Life
      8. Nevertheless
    • Side Two:
      1. Good Times Roll
      2. Doubleback Alley
      3. Cheese and Onions
      4. Another Day
      5. Piggy in the Middle
      6. Let's Be Natural
    • Obviously, the LP version is missing the songs "Goose-Step Mama", "Baby Let Me Be", "Blue Suede Schubert", "Between Us", "It's Looking Good", and "Get Up and Go". On the other hand, it also has a moderately longer version of "Hold My Hand" with an extended intro; the intro was excised because "Hold My Hand" was no longer the first song on the album. Additionally, the rearranged track order unfortunately broke some of the parallels to song transitions on Beatles albums. There were in fact several other versions as well. (Notably, the 2018 vinyl release restores the original LP content and contains the six missing songs on a bonus 7" EP.)
    • As a less extreme example, Archaeology has been re-released a few times with various bonus tracks.
  • Rooftop Concert:
    • The band's final performance on the roof of their Rutle Corps building where the band notably played "Get Up and Go" (the parodic parallel to the Beatles' "Get Back"). Naturally, in the Rutles' version, it begins with somebody getting accidentally pushed off the roof.
    • The band (minus Dirk McQuickly, who was portrayed by Eric Idle in the film and whose vocals were performed by the late Ollie Halsall) also held a rooftop concert in the mid-1990's to celebrate the release of their "lost album" Archaeology, which coincided with the release of The Beatles Anthology.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: It was said that if you play the title track from Sergeant Rutter's Only Darts Club Band backwards, it is supposed to sound like "Stig has been dead for ages, honestly." It in fact says "Dnab Bulc Strad Ylno Srettur Tnaegres."
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Occasionally. Not too many rock bands, much less parody ones, would use a word like "pusillanimous" in a song ("Another Day", to be precise).
  • Shout-Out: Many, frequently to unexpected sources. "Another Day" drops in a reference to author Gertrude Stein, while "Back in '64" quotes 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli almost verbatim. "Another Day" also throws in a Shout-Out to Shakespeare ("I know they say/that all the world's a stage/I'll play the fool/But as a rule/I'd rather act my age"), and the title of "Eine Kleine Middle Klasse Musik" is a reference to "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik", the composition by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
    • Additionally, a musical shoutout appears at the beginning of "Love Life", with the orchestra quoting the melody from "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" (the song it's based on, "All You Need Is Love", cribs its opening from "La Marseillaise", the French national anthem).
  • Shown Their Work: Innes and company's knowledge and love of the Beatles' material and history is obvious throughout the film and songs, which are all filled with in-jokes and references that would only be obvious to people intimately familiar with the Beatles' catalogue. Not many parodies would even have included a song patterned after the Fab Four's early Hamburg period, but the Pre-Fab Four did.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Their material runs the gamut from the heavily cynical ("Easy Listening", "Eine Kleine Middle Klasse Musik") to the heavily idealistic ("Back in '64").
  • Take That!: "Questionnaire" from Archaeology initially sounds lyrically goofy, much like other Rutles songs... up until the narrator says "Tell me what you think about how easy it can be to buy a gun?", a pointed lyric about gun politics, especially considering the circumstances of John Lennon's murder.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Chastity, the kooky artist, though it is never outright stated, is heavily implied to be a Nazi, what with the armbands, being German, and her father having invented World War II.
  • Title-Only Chorus: "Love Life"
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: All of Chastity's art is seen as evoking this trope, especially by Ron. At one point, Ron and Chastity sit in a bathtub with their clothes on and the water running as a meaningful act of symbolism. The press is there, of course.
  • Uncommon Time: "Love Life" switches meter signatures frequently and contains several measures of 5/4. (As a point of comparison, the song it's most prominently parodying, "All You Need Is Love", switches meter signatures frequently and contains several measures of 7/4).
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: In All You Need Is Cash.
    Narrator: 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.
  • Word Salad Lyrics:
    • "Piggy in the Middle" might be even more bizarre than its role model "I Am the Walrus".
      Bible-punching heavyweight evangelistic boxing kangaroo
      Orangutan and anaconda
      Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, even Pluto too
    • "Good Times Roll" similarly takes the wordplay of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" up to eleven.
      Fricassee chorus girl's thigh
      Toffee and mackerel gateau
      Pineapple pie in the sky
    • Though sometimes this is subverted by lines which seem like examples of this trope, but are actually in-jokes based on Beatles history. Several lines from "Unfinished Words" play on purported titles of unreleased Beatles material that turned out to be hoaxes. "Left is right and right is wrong" could, in addition, be taken as a statement in support of the political left: "[the political] left is [morally/logically] right and [the political] right is [morally/logically] wrong." This would have fit with the real John Lennon's politics, given that he asked his listeners to imagine a property-free utopia, so it's easy to see why someone might've believed it could be one of his song titles.


Video Example(s):


The Rutles

The Rutles are an almost exact pastiche of the Beatles in both their music and their history.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / BorrowingTheBeatles

Media sources: