Wake up, sun streaming through the windows – unusual for June. Jumpers don’t normally come off till August and then only for four weeks.
Today the start of the Rutles Farewell Tour – a short sharp plunge into Englands heartlands for the intrepid six. Neil – composer of all lyrics on guitar, piano and vocals. John Halsey – drummer and teller of funny stories, Mark Griffiths (Griff) bass guitar and vocals. Mickey Simmonds, keyboards and vocals. America’s very own Ken Thornton, lead guitar and responsible for some of the most memorable solos – both in Rutles songs and in duos with Neil. J.J.Jones, himself a superb drummer, plays percussion in the show.
This show is slightly unusual in that Neil will be doing his own support act with JJ and Tom Fry, the double bass player from Neils last tour . They will do the show they have been touring up and down the coutry but without the Rutles set. Hopefully then we will be able to sell Works in progress CD and Ego Warrior T-shirts.
Unfortunately, can’t sell anything Rutles yet. People still think Neil gets money from the Rutles but it is only the record company and the people who sell the CDs who make money. Hence the Rutles ‘Farewell’ Tour. It really means ‘farewell’ till Neil gets back the rights to the music and we are working on it.
In fact we have had such an amazing response to Neil’s new CD in England and Japan that it is obvious Neil can move ahead with confidence. Hopefully when he has toured with the new show in the US, people will discover his new music is as good and many say better than anything he has done before.
Yesterday John, Griff, Ken and JJ joined Neil to go over a few of the old songs. John was also trying out an electric drum kit which aparently sounds brilliant through the headphones. Through the amps though it sounds too thin, and electric, so he is stuck with the usual kit. I dont blame him for trying – it takes ages for the drummer to set everything up, then take it all down again and then load it into the van. The electric kit fits into three small cardboard boxes and then there is just one fold- out stand for all the attachments.
A bit of background on the Rutles:
is the landlord of a highly successful Adnams Pub in Cambridge whic he runs with his wife Elaine and his married son Matt, also employing 14 staff. His other son Rue works in a paper mill, is married and has a daughter, the apple of her grandparents eyes. The castle pub has a good feel about it -great music and good food – well worth a visit if you are ever in this part of England. John Elaine, Neil and I are all going to Deja this year to drink a toast at Ollies grave. (Ollie Halsall- the original Rutles guitarist and one of the greatest and least feted guitarists of the 60s/70s).
has an amazing pedigree having played bass with bands like Gallager and Lyle, Plainsong, The Everley Brothers, Cliff Richard and the Shadows and Matthews Southern Comfort. He is married to a lovely lady called Mary. Most recent memory of Mary was seeing her shuffling along with her foot swathed in a large plastic bag at Glastonbury last year. There was about 12 inches of mud everywhere -she was recovering from a foot operation, on crutches and desperate to dance and she almost managed it.
of the long curly dark locks is a great bloke very funny and a fantastic keyboards player. He too has played with numerous people, among them your very own Art garfunkel, as well as Paul Young, Joan Armatrading, Elkie brooks — the list goes on. He is married to the lovely Sarah and they have two boys, Charlie and Kyle who look very like each of them.
– the Ollie sound alike – has just had heart surgery opening clogged arterys, so is on a low-fat, low-sugar diet, plus he has to take two walks a day . It was amazing of him to come and join the band – it would have been difficult to find a guitarist to do what he does. But on this tour he has to be treated well – no heavy lifting etc etc. Ken is not a professional musician although he works and rehearses with a band in Bloomington Indiana. When you hear him you can not believe he is not doing it professionally – hey what am I saying- he has a good job where he earns a good regular wage and gets time off to do what he likes doing. Which professional musicians do I know who are able to say that- not many, in fact none. We are very grateful to him and hope he will have recovered completely by the time he gets back to the US.
Cool, gregarious JJ and young Tom you will know about from the last diary
The tour starts in London – in the 100 club where the Bonzos used to play – in fact where everyone has played at one time or another. Two nights here and then up to Stourbridge, then Stratford on Avon birthplace of a famous playwright whose plays might have been written by someone else who probably wasnt paid a thing. But as one punter who should know better said at the end of the Rutles gig, ‘what does that sort of thing matter – we’ve all had a great time the blokes a genius’. I was about to ask him if he would hang around and do the roadying for the ‘genius’ but he was gone. I digress. After Stratford on Avon the troup heads to John’s home town – Cambridge- to a venue called The Junction. Neil and I saw Emo Phillips for the first time there a couple of years ago. I had never even heard of him before that but just about everyone under forty – including our two eldest sons- knew him well. The show was brilliant and we have been friends and fans ever since. After Cambridge we go up to Chester and then all the way down to Southampton on the south coast, and that’s it. The very last Rutle gig will be, rather appropriately, in Liverpool, at the end of August, although Neil will be doing his Ego Warrior show both in Liverpool and in Edinburgh around this time as well, with JJ and Tom.