The "backup group" Martin used for this song was credited as The Toot Uncommons (Tutankhamen), but was really The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, whose multi-instrumentalist John McEuen is good friends with Steve Martin and taught him to play banjo. Martin was the opening act for the band for a few years in the mid-'70s, where he developed his act and refined his "Wild and Crazy Guy" persona, often to a hostile audience that was there to see music, not comedy.
According to McEuen, it was on tour when Martin put his song together. He told Country Music Pride
: "When we did 'King Tut,' he came to the theatre we were playing in L.A. with this idea between the soundcheck and the show that he described to the band. 'Play this. Now have the bass go like this. Jeff, you guys go, 'Tut, Tut, King Tut.' Everybody worked on it for about an hour, we went on stage and did it, and we just blew the roof off the place. So that was fun. I would say that Steve has always been productive – making something. It’s not always good according to some sales figures. But the sales figures don’t always indicate what was good or not, and the critics often don’t know that some of it is so stellar that we’re really lucky to have him around."
Martin is an accomplished banjo player, and McEuen produced his 2010 album, The Crow
, which won the Grammy for Bluegrass Album of the Year.