Musician Neil Innes has died aged 75, his agent has confirmed.
The star wrote music for Monty Python albums including Monty Python’s Previous Record and The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief.
He performed and penned songs and sketches for the Pythons’ final TV series in 1974 after John Cleese temporarily left.
Innes was also a member of The Rutles, a rock band who were originally a sketch group that emulated the Beatles and later on released an album.
According to his agent, Nigel Morton, the star had not been ill and his death was unexpected.
In a statement, his family said: “It is with deep sorrow and great sadness that we have to announce the death of Neil James Innes on 29th December 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.”
Tributes have been paid by stars including Sherlock actor and writer Mark Gatiss and Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe actress Diane Morgan.
Innes was a frequent collaborator with the Monty Python and toured the UK and Canada with them.
He was only one of two non-Pythons to be credited as a writer for the TV series, alongside Douglas Adams.
He also appeared in Monty Python’s Life Of Brian and Terry Gilliam’s Jabberwocky before joining with Eric Idle on the sketch show Rutland Weekend Television, about a fictional low-budget regional TV station.
Innes performed in The Rutles as Ron Nasty, styled after John Lennon, and played the guitar, keyboards and sang.
He was also in The Bonzo Dog Dada Band, whose song I’m the Urban Spaceman won Innes an Ivor Novello award.
According to his social media pages, Innes began fundraising to help with costs for a new album at the beginning of 2019.
In October, he completed the album and sent it out to his fans.
Innes also announced earlier this month he planned to publish an “audio diary” called Radio Noire.
Writing about the project, he said: “It will be available online – for a yearly subscription – and contain day to day observations, stories and gossip from the past, as well as Matters of Interest ‘behind the songs’ [you be the Judge!].
“I am in talks with lovely people about making this happen. Not just the diary – a very large chunk of my recording ‘catalogue’ [Including the new album ‘Nearly Really’] will be accessible.”
With reporting by Press Association.