On This Day in 1978: The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash debuts in America
39 years ago today, The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash made its American debut as a television special on NBC, earning the lowest ratings of any prime-time television show airing on network television that week. Great songs, though.
Created by Eric Idle and Neil Innes, The Rutles were – as everyone hopefully already knows – a parody of The Beatles. Using the then-current documentary The Compleat Beatles as a template, Idle and Innes painstakingly created a faux history of The Rutles while also recording an album’s worth of the band’s biggest hits to use as the soundtrack to the program. To make All You Need Is Cash come across as realistic as possible, they also secured a few real rock stars to contribute to the proceedings, with some playing themselves (Mick Jagger and Paul Simon) and others playing bit parts within the course of the mockumentary (George Harrison and Ron Wood). Additionally, the comedic material was aided by the participation of big-time funny folk like Michael Palin, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, and Bill Murray.
Although the highs and lows of Dirk, Barry, Stig, and Ron failed to capture mass viewership in America during its initial airing, The Rutles has found a rather significant cult following over the years, in no small part because the songs are in some cases almost as catchy as actual Beatles songs. If you haven’t watched The Rutles before or if you can’t remember the last time you screened it, then you should give it another go ASAP. Either way, though, you should totally hit play on the soundtrack right now, because those sounds are just as wonderful now as they were 39 years ago.