Neil Innes dies aged 75

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Neil Innes has died aged 75, according to BBC News.

The comedian and songwriter passed away unexpectedly on Sunday night (December 29), according to a spokesman for the family.

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.”

Innes was born in Danbury, Essex – although he spent his childhood in West Germany, where his father was deployed with the British Army. While a student at Goldsmiths College, he met Vivian Stanshall, with whom he wrote most of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band‘s songs, including “I’m The Urban Spaceman“, produced by Apollo C. Vermouth (Paul McCartney), and “Death Cab For Cutie“, which the band performed in The Beatles’ film, Magical Mystery Tour.

During the 1970s, Innes became closely associated with Monty Python, contributing songs and sketches to the final series in 1974, as well as appearing Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Monty Python’s Life of Brian. He was one of only two non-Pythons to be credited as a writer, alongside The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams.

After Python finished, Innes joined Eric Idle‘s new series, Rutland Weekend Television. On the back of that show, Innes and Idle created The Rutles.

Innes was later given a writing credit on Oasis‘s song, “Whatever”, after it was found Noel Gallagher had borrowed portions of his song “How Sweet To Be An Idiot“.

Innes also composed the music for children’s television programmes including Puddle Lane, The Raggy Dolls, The Riddlers and Tumbledown Farm.

More recently, Innes was involved in a legal dispute after the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band name was trademarked without the consent of the surviving band members. A line-up featuring Innes alongside Roger Ruskin Spear, ‘Legs’ Larry Smith, Rodney Slater and Vernon Dudley Bowhay-Nowell were due to appear under the title ‘Still Barking’ as Bonzo Dog Banned for “one final grand HOORAH as a thank you to fans” at London’s O2 Shepherds Bush Empire on May 29.

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