Stefanelli was and is "the
John" for The Moptops, the Beatle
tribute band who for two nights were "The
New Rutles" with Neil Innes. Since
that time, The Moptops have gone from
playing all over L.A. to playing all over
the world. Joe was also the voice of John
Lennon in Forrest Gump! Having just returned
to L.A. from a Moptop tour of Taiwan,
he told us all about the experience of
being a "New Rutle" for a weekend.
And as if that weren't enough, John Altman
sent us all these pictures from the concert...
thank you John! And thank you Joe and
John for helping us flesh out this little
bit of music history!
the time, we were the big Beatles tribute
group. We were the up 'n' comers in the
city. We caught the interest a long time
before of Martin Lewis, who would bring
us in to do work and do stuff with him.
All of a sudden, we were asked to do these
Rutle songs. At the time I really didn't
know the Rutles that well. I remembered
it was a Monty Python thing. I had to
rent the movie and go watch it. I said,
"Which one are we working with?"
And he says we're working with Ron Nasty.
That's Neil Innes. He's going to front
the band, and he's going to be Ron Nasty
and the New Rutles. And then the joke
is obvious you have guys up there that
look just like the Beatles. So I remember
learning these songs in the studio, and
we had this appointment to meet Neil when
he came in. So we're in there and we haven't
met Neil yet, and we all just watched
the movie, and we're expecting this guy
that looks like that. And here comes Neil,
looking as he does in a Hawaiian shirt
and a straw large brimmed hat. And my
drummer and I were like, "That's
him?" He came in and jeez, we got
on like a house on fire and had a ball.
The songs are really good. We were trying
to pick out the different songs of the
Beatles. There are some of them that had
two or three different songs in one song.
But we noticed that they were songs that
stood on their own. They're very good
nights before the gig we went to this
big party at the British Consulate. And
then we met Eric Idle. At the time I think
they were in a bit of a spat. I think
Eric didn't want us doing the concert
or something, because he wasn't very nice
to us. The rest of the Pythons were there,
but I don't think John Cleese was there.
But I met Sid Cesar, Jeff Lynne was there.
We met all these people, and people loved
we arrived at the Troubadour, they were
lined around the block going all the way
up Doheny. And I'm talking four deep!
It went over so well that they
had to add a second show because there
were people around the block trying to
get into the Troubadour. People were turned
away. And who was in the audience that
night, it was incredible! Julian Lennon
was in the
audience. The guys from Spinal Tap were
there. The Rolling Stones were reportedly
going to show
up but I think they had a gig that night.
there was a ton of people. We got to do
a set of our own as the Beatles right
after the show. Then Neil came up and
joined us in the band, and then Greg Phillinganes
stayed up and he did his little characters
like Billy Preston. Greg Phillinganes
played with us. And we did USSR, he came
and sat in. It was really a cool evening.
was really great. I remember to this day,
I got home after and sat on the couch
and I thought to myself, "What the
hell happened? What was this?"
I had no idea the popularity of that Rutle
movie was so extensive. Then they decided
to add that second show and believe me,
it was last minute. I got a call early
the next morning, they wanted to do another
show, can we do it? It was very much like
Altman conducts The
Rutland Symphony Orchestra
had to play with an orchestra. They were
players from the Hollywood Bowl symphony
orchestra. They added a second show but
they couldn't contract the Hollywood Bowl
people because they didn't have the time
to do it or they were committed or something.
What ended up happening is, they had to
simulate it or do a keyboard. Because
they only came in on Doubleback Alley
and all those ones. They came in for that
stuff, and that was what they were there
for. So we figured we could get away with
did his little Bonzo Dog thing. Some of
his songs in the center. I think he was
surprised. I think he was.
big disappointment of that whole thing
is that we were scheduled to go on the
Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Neil and the
New Rutles were scheduled, and we were
supposed to go down there when they film
the show at 6:00. Like 4:00 in the afternoon
we get the phone call: well there's some
scheduling mix up and we got dropped.
And we had called everybody saying, "We're
going to be on the Tonight Show!"
We had to call everybody back. I learned
valuable lesson; until you're in the green
room, you're not even safe!
Joe, Greg Phillinganes and Tim McDougall
is a very nice guy. He's a really beautiful
guy. He always treated us with a lot of
respect and he always remembered me, which
I always appreciated. I've called him
at home a couple of times over the years
since to get his advice and to see if
he'd be interested in some other projects,
and he always talked to me and always
communicated to me and gave me advice.
thing I think wasn't expected to be as
big as it was. We were being shuffled
around all week long in limos. It was
a big deal. It was a lot bigger deal than
we thought it was going to be. We had
no idea how big the shows were going to
the Moptops in "A Hard Day's Day"
- a day in the life of a Beatles tribute
band at http://www.aharddaysday.com/