Monty Python collaborator Neil Innes dies aged 75
Comedian and musician also sang with Beatles parody band The Rutles
Neil Innes collaborated with Monty Python and played with The Rutles. Photograph: Luke Ford/PA Wire
Monty Python collaborator and Rutles singer Neil Innes has died at the age of 75, his agent has confirmed.
The comedian and musician died unexpectedly last night, Nigel Morton told the PA news agency.
A statement released on behalf of his family said: “It is with deep sorrow and great sadness that we have to announce the death of Neil James Innes on December 29th 2019.
“We have lost a beautiful, kind, gentle soul whose music and songs touched the heart of everyone and whose intellect and search for truth inspired us all.
“He died of natural causes quickly without warning and, I think, without pain.
“His wife Yvonne and their three sons, Miles, Luke and Barney and three grandchildren Max, Issy and Zac give thanks for his life, for his music and for the joy he gave us all.”
Innes wrote music for Monty Python’s albums including Monty Python’s Previous Record and The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief, and performed and penned songs and sketches for the Pythons’ final TV series in 1974 after John Cleese temporarily left.
He also wrote songs for Monty Python And The Holy Grail, appeared in Monty Python’s Life Of Brian, and toured the UK and Canada with the group.
He was one of only two non-Pythons to be credited as a writer for the TV series, alongside Douglas Adams.
After Python’s original run on television came to an end, he joined Eric Idle on the sketch show Rutland Weekend Television, about a fictional low-budget regional station.
He was also a member of the band The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, whose song I’m The Urban Spaceman won him an Ivor Novello award.
He penned the song Death Cab For Cutie, which inspired an American band of the same name, and was used in The Beatles’s 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour, and starred in the TV series The Innes Book Of Records.
Innes became a fixture in children’s entertainment in the 1980s when he voiced The Raggy Dolls and composed music for the show, as well as Puddle Lane, The Riddles and Tumbledown Farm.
“I used to record ‘The Innes Book of Records’ on C-60s & marvel at his talent. I still hum ‘I like Cezanne, says Anne’. Sweet dreams, sweet idiot.”
Comedian Diane Morgan added: “Fairwell Neil Innes. One of the nicest people I’ve ever met and a towering talent.” - PA