Neil Innes, the comedian, musician, and writer known for his work with Monty Python, has died at the age of 75. It’s believed he died of natural causes, according to statement from his family (via the BBC).
“It is with deep sorrow and great sadness that we have to announce the death of Neil James Innes on 29 December 2019,” read the official note.
“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.”
The statement continued, “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.”
Born in Essex, England, Innes found fame early on in The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, a musical act combining surrealist humor, avant-garde art, and jazz-pop stylings. The group scored a 1968 hit in “I’m the Urban Spaceman”, which was famously co-produced by Paul McCartney under his Apollo C. Vermouth alter ego. The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band also released “Death Cab for Cutie” in 1967, a track that was used that same year in The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour film.
Innes put out his own debut solo album, How Sweet to Be an Idiot, a few years later. Its title track was later “borrowed” for Oasis’ 1994 song “Whatever”, for which Innes received a songwriting credit.
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Along with the launching of his solo music career, the 1970s saw Innes collaborate closely with Monty Python. Affectionately known as “The Seventh Python” — even eventually inspiring a film of the same name in 2008 — Innes appeared in films such as The Holy Grail and Life of Brian. He also penned sketches and songs, including “Knights of the Round Table” and “Brave Sir Robin”, and appeared in Monty Python’s final TV series in 1974.
Innes also worked with fellow Monty Python alum Eric Idle in The Rutles, a band that both celebrated and parodied The Beatles. Innes specifically took on the role of Ron Nasty, a character based on John Lennon.