Monty Python actor and comedian Neil Innes dies
Comedian and musician Neil Innes, who featured in Monty Python films and played with The Rutles, has died.
Innes’ agent confirmed his death at the age of 75, saying it was unexpected and that he had not been ill.
His family said in a statement: “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.”
In his work with Monty Python, Innes appeared in both Life Of Brian and Monty Python And The Holy Grail – writing songs for the latter.
He also performed and penned sketches for the group’s final TV series after the temporary departure of John Cleese, and toured with them in the UK and Canada.
His work with the group made him one of only two non-Pythons to be credited as a writer on the series, alongside Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams.
Away from Monty Python, Innes appeared in Terry Gilliam’s Jabberwocky before joining Eric Idle on the sketch show Rutland Weekend Television.
The show, which was about a fictional low-budget regional TV station, spawned Beatles spoof The Rutles and Innes played the character of Ron Nasty, who was based on John Lennon.
He went on to become a fixture in children’s entertainment in the 1980s when he voiced The Raggy Dolls and he also composed music for the show, as well as Puddle Lane, The Riddles and Tumbledown Farm.
Innes was married to wife Yvonne, who he had met while studying at Goldsmiths College in London in the 1960s, and the couple had three sons – Miles, Luke and Barney.
Innes spent much of his childhood in the former West Germany due to his father’s army deployment and later went to a secondary school and art school in Norwich.
Innes, who was born in Danbury, Essex, on 9 December 1944, had three grandchildren.
The family statement added: “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.”
Fellow British entertainment figures have paid tribute to Innes.
Horrible Histories and Yonderland actor Jim Howick tweeted: “I’m so sad to hear about Neil Innes. A Bonzo, a Rutle, a true champion of silly.”
Actor and writer Mark Gatiss also wrote on Twitter, saying: “Neil Innes has gone. As a Python-obsessed teen I saw him at Darlington Arts Centre & missed my bus home to catch his brilliance.
“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: “Farewell Neil Innes. One of the nicest people I’ve ever met and a towering talent.”