At 2 PM Beatles Blast brings you a full hour of music by The Rutles. Neil Innes passed away in the last week of 2019, and as the host of Beatles Blast, I had to take a week to pay tribute to him. If it weren’t for The Rutles, I may have never become the rabid Beatles fan that I am today.
I was a comedy nerd who ate up everything that was related to Monty Python and Saturday Night Live when NBC aired a cross-country collaboration in 1978 that sent up the entire Beatles mythos. Neil Innes, who created The Rutles’s music and co-created the concept with Eric Idle, captured the sound of The Beatles’ music so well that it clicked with me, and sent me down the rabbit hole to learn all I could about The Fab Four so that I could get all the jokes in All You Need Is Cash, The Rutles mockumentary.
Innes started out as a co-leader of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, who had ties to both The Beatles (they appear in Magical Mystery Tour and had a single produced by Paul McCartney) and Monty Python (The Bonzos were on the pre-Python show, Do Not Adjust Your Set with Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam’s animation, and Innes was a credited writer on the final season of the Monty Python TV show and was essentially a member of the troupe for Monty Python and The Holy Grail). Innes also had a solo career (and had one of his songs plagarized by Beatle imitators, Oasis), and was a beloved host of radio programs and children’s shows in the UK.
Because of the role he played in my personal Beatles story, I had to devote this week’s Beatles Blast to the music of The Rutles.
Beatles Blast can be heard every Wednesday at 2 PM, with replays Thursday at 9 PM, Friday at 11 AM, Sunday at 5 PM and Tuesdays at 9 AM, exclusively on The AIR.
Herman created two of the most popular and tuneful musicals of the 1960’s with Hello, Dolly! and Mame, and also adapted the French play, La Cage aux Folles into a highly successful musical in the 1980’s. In addition to those three highly successful shows his work also includes the musicals Milk and Honey, Mack and Mabel, Dear World, and The Grand Tour. His work has also been the subject of two musical revues–Jerry’s Girls (in which Curtain Call host, Mel Larch has performed) and Showtune, which had an off-Broadway run in 2003.
Many songs from his shows have gone on to become pop standards, such as the title song from Hello, Dolly!, and “If He Walked Into My Life,” from Mame. And “I Am What I Am,” the Act I closing number from La Cage, was more than a mere pop hit for Gloria Gaynor. With its message of living openly and honestly–at a time when openly gay men were often ostracized–it became a popular gay pride anthem.
This week’s Curtain Call presents an hour that samples the highlights of Jerry Herman’s remarkable career.
After the new hour of Curtain Call, stick around for two additional episodes from the Curtain Call archives. Curtain Call can be heard Wednesday at 3 PM, with replays Thursday at 8 AM and 8 PM, Friday at 10 AM and Saturday at 5 PM. An all-night marathon of Curtain Call episodes can be heard Wednesday nights, beginning at Midnight, and an additional marathon can be heard Sunday evenings from 6 PM to midnight..