Neil Innes, whose gift for wry and funny songwriting led to work with Monty Python, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and The Rutles, died Sunday, December 29. His death was confirmed by his agent, Nigel Morton, who said in a statement that Innes died "quickly, without warning," of natural causes. He was 75.
In a statement, Innes' family wrote:
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.
Innes wrote several original songs for Monty Python's sketch-comedy TV show, Monty Python's Flying Circus, as well as 1975's classic movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, in which he also appeared as an actor. Innes' years as a supporting player with Monty Python led to a long-running stint as co-leader of The Rutles, a fictional late-'70s Beatles pastiche that featured Monty Python's Eric Idle as the Paul McCartney stand-in, Dirk McQuickly, and Innes as the John Lennon stand-in, Ron Nasty.
The Rutles ultimately became a "real" band, appearing on Saturday Night Live and recording a mockumentary film called All You Need Is Cash in 1978. Assorted reunions, tours, retrospectives and compilations have followed in the decades since.