"Stig is dead" is a rumour started in 1969 that Stig O'Hara had died in a flash fire at a waterbed shop. He was then replaced with a wax look-alike. During the time of the original rumours, many fans reported breaking their Rutle record players by playing records backward. In 1970 an entire magazine was created about the rumour, (the first issue can be seen right), which continued to appear until 1978.
The supposed clues
- Some fans in 1969 questioned if "Stig" was capable of speech. Even as the quiet Rutle, he hadn't been publically heard to say a word publically since 1963.
While the last album produced by the band, Shabby Road was what truly kickstarted the theories.
- On the cover, Stig is seen crossing the road without trousers, an Italian sign of death.
Tragical History Tour
- Ron Nasty is supposed to sing "I Buried Stig" on "I Am the Waitress".
- In fact he sings "¿E Burres stigano?" which is very bad Spanish for "Have you a water buffalo?".
Sgt. Rutter's Only Darts Club Band
- On the cover of Sgt. Rutter's Only Darts Club Band, Stig appears to be standing in the exact position of a dying yeti (from the Rutland Book of the Dead).
- One problem here is that dying yetis weren't discovered until 1968, a year after the album was released, and neither was the Rutland Book of the Dead released until 1969.
- Some believe that the entire cover of Sgt. Rutter's Only Darts Club Band depicts Stig's funeral. To the left are the four "original" Rutles, and Stig looks bewildered and confused, as if wondering; "Why am I at my own funeral?" Barry and Dirk look struck with grief because they miss Stig, and Nasty is smiling, because he never really liked Stig.
- It is also claimed that the photoshoot for this cover is where "Ftig" first joined the band. Several of the props and characters on the cover were borrowed from Madame Tussauds, including the younger versions of the Rutles themselves, perhaps even including the new Stig.
- If you sing the title of "Sgt. Rutter's" backward, it is supposed to sound like "Stig has been dead for a long time, honestly." In fact, it sounds just like "dnab bulc strad ylno srettur tnaegsar."
- On the cover of A Collection of Rutles Oldies, a compilation album, a bed can be seen flying in the sky next to a large image of what appears to be Stig. Some people believe that there is smoke billowing out of the bottom of the bed, referencing the flash fire which supposedly killed him. The bed, as they believe, is Stig ascending to heaven.
- It's very unlikely that any of the Rutles will get into heaven.
In Popular Culture
- In 1993, Stig released a live album which he titled Stig is not a wax replica please stop asking., which featured a cover making several references to the theory. This includes Stig's pants finally crossing the road, and the Yeti from the Rutland Book of the Dead being alive-and-well.
- The hit British tv show Top Gear featured a group of characters named "The Stig". The original Stig was advertised as dying, and the term "Stig is dead" became even more popular. When doing a tribute to the original Stig, the announcer stated that the Stig had "Easy Listening."
- In 2010, Highway 69 produced a partial-documentary, partial-mockumentary film entitled Stig O'Hara Really Is Dead: The Last Testament of Ron Nasty. According to the story, in 2005 Highway 69 received a package from Rutland, UK. Inside were two cassette tapes, in perfect condition, with a voice on them claiming to be Ron Nasty in 1973, right before he became anti-social, telling the shocking story of how he and the other two Rutles covered up Stig's death. He refers to Stig after 1966 as "Ftig" and before as "Stig". According to the tale, Stig died in a waterbed shop in March 1966.
- In April 2014, a Swedish man named Stig Kernell died at the age of 92. His self-written obituary attracted press coverage upon its publication because it was just three words long: "I am dead."