Dirk is deaf is a conspiracy theory about the Rutle Dirk McQuickly, with the suggestion that Dirk was hit by an ice-cream truck and lost his ability to hear.
While originally gaining infamy in 1996, the theory actually stems from a larger fan-rumor which had been in the Rutle fanbase since the beginning: that Dirk had not done any of his singing in the band's history, and that he had actually been dubbed by a sound-alike from the start. The first issue of the Rutle fanzine Rutles Forever even included this limerick:
- "There once was a lead singer named Dirk
Who had an unusual quirk
It was his choice
To dub over his voice
So he would never have to work"
The theory was extended in 1996, when it was then posed that this voice-over work was a necessity of an accident. Dirk is Deaf is very similar to the other conspiracy theories, such as Stig is dead and Barry is also dead.
In 1996, with the release of Archaeology, a small picture of what appears to be the other three Rutles reacting to seeing a horrific sight on the street was spotted in the CD booklet. This was the first "clue" fans noticed, and many more clues were quickly "discovered".
On the cover of A Hard Day's Rut, Dirk is holding his finger to his ear, in a pose obviously self-conscious about his hearing loss.
On the Sgt. Rutter's Only Darts Club Band album, someone is holding a hand, palm out, over Dirk's head, which is the symbol for "hello" in the sign language used by the deaf. In addition, all the Rutles except Dirk are holding horns (Dirk is holding a clarinet). Dirk would naturally avoid holding a horn, as this would resemble the old type of horn the deaf used to put up to their ears as a hearing aid.
On the cover of the Shabby Road album, Dirk is crossing the road barefooted. He would obviously not done this had he been able to hear people warning him that the hot asphalt would burn his feet.
Finally, when playing The Triangular Album's "Evolution Number Ten" in reverse, Ron Nasty can be heard uttering the phrase "Next Dirk-man!" over and over again, as if Nasty is hosting an audition to replace Dirk and is yelling for the next person every few moments.
Musical defects and "pretending" to "play" the "guitar"
In many photographs and live concert footage, Dirk can be seen "playing" the guitar. If these photographs are examined closely, it can be seen that Dirk is faking playing, and not fingering the guitar at all. One infamous example is in the final Let it Rot performance, where he's clearly not striking a note.
In All You Need Is Cash, an unofficial Rutles documentary, Dirk can be seen and heard trying to play the piano and compose a song for his new wife Martini on their honeymoon, seeming unable to find the correct piano keys or sing on key. While this could indeed be caused by some sort of hearing defect, alcohol would have the same side-effect. He was shown drinking before the act.