Neil Innes, the British comedian and musician, has died. He was 75. Innes is best known for collaborating with comedy troupe Monty Python, for whom he wrote a number of original songs, as well as playing in the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and the Rutles.
Innes’ agent Nigel Morton confirmed the news to Sky News and said that his death was unexpected and that he had not been ill.
Innes wrote a number of songs for Monty Python and the Holy Grail including “Knights of the Round Table” and “Brave Sir Robin,” singing the latter opposite Eric Idle. He also appeared in the film as a head-bashing monk, a peasant and the serf crushed by a giant wooden rabbit. He also briefly appeared in Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
Born on December 9, 1944 in Danbury, Essex, England, Innes wrote for and appeared on Monty Python’s Flying Circus and performed in the fictional Beatles parody group the Rutles with Idle and others. His Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band scored a top 5 single in the UK with “I’m the Urban Spaceman” in 1968 and would gain some popularity Stateside a decade later for being featured on the Dr. Demento radio show.
A slew of British writers paid tribute to Innes including Veep writer Simon Blackwell and Sherlock and Dracula’s Mark Gatiss.
Blackwell said, “Incredibly sad to hear that Neil Innes has gone. The Innes Book Of Records was one of the most beautiful, innovative and funny shows I’ve ever seen. The Rutles’ songs, of course, beyond perfection. What a talent and what a horrible loss.”
Gatiss added, “As a Python-obsessed teen I saw him at Darlington Arts Centre and missed my bus home to catch his brilliance. I used to record ‘The Innes Book of Records’ on C-60s and marvel at his talent. I still hum ‘I like Cezanne, says Anne’. Sweet dreams, sweet idiot.”
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