Neil Innes has passed away. He was 75-years old. The musician/comedian is probably best-known for his work with Monty Python and co-founding The Rutles. Innes was a gifted musician who used humor to get his points across, which later caught the attention of The Beatles while he was in the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Group. It is believed that he died of natural causes. Innes’ family released a statement, which you can read below.
“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.”
Neil Innes started his life in music when he took piano lessons from the age of seven to fourteen while stationed in West Germany with his British warrant officer father. After that, he decided to teach himself guitar. Innes’ family were very supportive of his artistic leanings, as his Scottish father also dabbled in drawing and painting. With his creativity fostered at home from an early age, he attended Goldsmiths’ College, London, where he studied drama. Innes later graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art in 1966.
After school, Neil Innes started The Bonzo Dog Dada Band after the art movement Dada, which was later renamed the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and then shortened to The Bonzo Dog Band. The band caught the attention of The Beatles and Paul McCartney, under the name Apollo C. Vermouth, produced their first and only hit single, “I’m the Urban Spaceman.” They also wrote the song, “Death Cab for Cutie,” which was featured in The Beatles’ movie Magical Mystery Tour and later taken up by singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard for the name of his band.
After gaining some attention, Neil Innes began to collaborate on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Innes also appeared in and wrote music for several Python movies, including “Knights of the Round Table” and “Brave Sir Robin” for the iconic Monty Python and The Holy Grail. It was during this time that he realized that the sum was greater than the individual parts as he saw the creative tensions amongst the group create some great comedy and art. After that, he paired with Eric Idle for a new comedy sketch show, Rutland Weekend Television. It’s here where they created The Beatles parody band, The Rutles.
The Rutles were able to release some successful albums over the years. They even made the 1978 mockumentary All You Need Is Cash. Throughout the rest of this life, Neil Innes kept on making music, either for himself or for other artists. In 2008, Innes was also the subject of a documentary, The Seventh Python, which highlighted his talents within the comedy group and outside. His latest album with the Idiot Bastard Band was released in September of this year. Innes influence can still be felt today and it will live on in the years to come. CNN was the first to report on Neil Innes’ death.