Monday, December 30, 2019

Godspeed Neil Innes

Neil Innes, best known for The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, The Beatles pastiche The Rutles, and his work with Monty Python, died yesterday, December 29 2019, at the age of 75.

Neil Innes was born on December 9 1944 in Danbury, Essex. His father was a warrant officer serving in the British Army in West Germany. He then spent his first several years in West Germany. From when he was 7 years old until he was 14 years old he took piano lessons. He also learned to play the guitar. Once the family returned to the United Kingdom, Neil Innes attended Thorpe St. Andrew School in Norfolk, the Norwich School of Design, and Goldsmith's College in London.

It was while he was at Goldsmith's College that he joined The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, which had been formed by Vivian Stanshall and Rodney Slater. It would ultimately be Neil Innes and Vivian Stanshall who would write most of the band's material. The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band had a minor hit in Britain with "I'm the Urban Spaceman." They released the albums Gorilla, The Doughnuts in Granny's Greenhouse, Tadpoles, Keynsham, and Let's Make Up and Be Friendly. The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band appeared regularly on the TV show Do Not Adjust Your Set. They made a notable appearance in The Beatles' television special Magical Mystery Tour, performing "Death Cab for Cutie."

After The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band disbanded, Neil Innes played in the band GRIMMS, which ultimately released three albums. He also began a close association with Monty Python's Flying Circus. He contributed music to their albums Monty Python's Previous Record (1972) and The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief (1973). He wrote songs and sketches for the final series of Monty Python's Flying Circus and even appeared in two sketches on the series. He would also appear in Monty Python's movies Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and The Life of Brian (1979), as well as Terry Gilliam's debut feature film as a director, Jabberwocky (1977). In 1973 he also appeared live with Monty Python in the UK and Canada.

In 1976 Neil Innes and Eric Idle joined the comedy sketch television series Rutland Weekend Television. The show ran for two series. One of the sketches on the show featured a Beatles pastiche called The Rutles. Neil Innes played Ron Nasty, a character loosely based on John Lennon. The sketch lead to two appearances on Saturday Night Live and then the television movie The Rutles: All You Need is Cash. A soundtrack album for All You Need is Cash, The Rutles, was released in 1978. Through the years there would be other Rutles related projects. In 1996 The Rutles released a parody of The Beatles' Anthology, Archaeology. In 2002 The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch, a parody of the television special The Beatles: Revolution.

Following The Rutles: All You Need is Cash, Neil Innes had his own show, The Innes Book of Records, which ran for three series. He also composed music for the shows Jane, The Raggy Dolls, The Riddlers, and East of the Moon. Mr. Innes played the magician in the children's TV series Puddle Lane. He appeared in the movies The Missionary (1982) and Erik the Viking (1989).

Later in his career Neil Innes appeared on the children's shows East of the Moon and The Raggy Dolls. He appeared in the movie Not the Messiah: He's a Very Naughty Boy (2010).

Over the years Neil Innes also released several solo albums and participated in reunions of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

Neil Genius was also an incredible music talent and a comic genius. He wrote some extremely listenable songs with The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band that, at the same time, could be very funny. He was also versatile. He could write an Elvis pastiche such as "Death Cab for Cutie" as well as The Beatles pastiches for The Rutles projects. Such was his talent that he was one of the few people who was not a member of Monty Python to be credited on Monty Python's Circus. People often have either musical talent or comic talent. Neil Innes had both.

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