Songwriter Neil Innes has passed away unexpectedly aged 75, it has been confirmed, with the longtime Monty Python collaborator taken ill on Sunday night while traveling home from France with his family.
Writing songs including Knights of the Round Table, Brave Sir Robin (both in Monty Python and the Holy Grail) and the melody for the iconic Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, Innes was sometimes known as the Seventh Python, though also found fame for his involvement in the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and The Rutles.
A statement on his website reads, “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.”
Several stars and former collaborators have paid tribute to Innes, including Danny Baker, Mark Gatiss and Monty Python’s John Cleese.
Baker shared Innes’ song Friends at the End, and tweeted, “A bit numb that my friend has gone so suddenly. He wrote a beautiful song summing up how many of us feel today. Of course he did…”
A bit numb that my friend has gone so suddenly.
He wrote a beautiful song summing up how many of us feel today.
Of course he did…https://t.co/jRg5mjbqy1
— Danny Baker (@prodnose) December 30, 2019
Gatiss wrote, “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.”
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.
— Mark Gatiss (@Markgatiss) December 30, 2019
Actress and comedian Diane Morgan tweeted, “Farewell Neil Innes. One of the nicest people I’ve ever met and a towering talent.”
Fairwell Neil Innes. One of the nicest people I’ve ever met and a towering talent. pic.twitter.com/JJ2vZUtkKO
— Diane Morgan (@missdianemorgan) December 30, 2019
And filmmaker Edgar Wright added, “If it’s true that the great Neil Innes had sadly passed away, please let me raise a glass to the man. Forever a fan of The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.”
If it's true that the great Neil Innes had sadly passed away, please let me raise a glass to the man. Forever a fan of The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. Allow me to share a favourite clip of them in action (with a bonkers Innes guitar solo too). RIP Neil. https://t.co/wojCBk7GPY
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) December 30, 2019
Meanwhile, Monty Python’s own John Cleese described Innes as “too nice for his own good,” and shared some fond memories of their time working together.
Utterly dismayed to hear about Neil Innes. Right out of the blue…
A very sweet man, much too nice for his own good
Lovely writer and performer. When he worked with Python on our stage show, I listened every night to "How sweet to be an Idiot" on the tannoy
— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) December 30, 2019
And as the outpourings of grief and remembrance continue, this is clearly a man who will be very missed.
Really sad to hear about Neil Innes. Punch in the gut to end the decade on. RIP to the sweetest of idiots.
— Richard K Herring (@Herring1967) December 30, 2019
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.
— Simon Blackwell (@simonblackwell) December 30, 2019
We are devastated to learn about Neil Innes.
He played The Cavern just this year and was booked to play Beatleweek 2020, we have been in regular contact with him so this is a real shock
A friend of The Cavern for over 30 years, he will be forever remembered, and missed. pic.twitter.com/aoJTsBeCx2
— The Cavern Club (@cavernliverpool) December 30, 2019