Monty Python collaborator Neil Innes dies aged 75

Amy Johnson
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09: Neil Innes attends "50 Years: The Beatles" panel discussion at Ed Sullivan Theater on February 9, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
Neil Innes at the 50 Years: The Beatles panel discussion at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City in 2014. (Kris Connor/Getty Images)

The musician and comedian Neil Innes has died at the age of 75, his agent has confirmed.

The agent, Nigel Morton, said the death was unexpected and that Innes had not been ill.

Innes first became famous as a member of the humorous art-pop group the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and was known for his frequent collaborations with Monty Python comedy troupe.

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His work with the Pythons – including writing music for albums including Monty Python's Previous Record and The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief – led him to be known as the “Seventh Python”, also the name of the 2008 musical documentary about his career.

Comedians from the British comedy troupe Monty Python pose with a large scarf around their necks during a visit to Paris. (L-R): Terry Gilliam, musician and supporting player Neil Innes, Eric Idle, and Terry Jones. (Photo by Pierre Vauthey/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)
Innes (second left) with Pythons Terry Gilliam (far left), Eric Idle (centre right) and Terry Jones. (Pierre Vauthey/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)

Innes penned original songs for the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail including Knights of the Round Table and Sir Robin, as well as acting in the picture in minor roles.

Innes went on to have a small role in the troupe’s 1979 film Life of Brian.

He was also only one of two non-Pythons to have been credited as a writer for the group’s TV show, the other being future Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy author Douglas Adams.

Monty Python And The Holy Grail, lobbycard, from left: Neil Innes, Eric Idle, three heads from left: Terry Jones, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, 1975. (Photo by LMPC via Getty Images)
Monty Python And The Holy Grail lobbycard, 1975. From left: Neil Innes, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Graham Chapman and Michael Palin. (LMPC via Getty Images)

Innes’s group the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band first achieved public prominence with a performance in The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour film in 1967.

Their song I'm The Urban Spaceman – produced by Paul McCartney – reached No 5 in 1968 and earned Innes an Ivor Novello award.

Later he was also a member of the parody band The Rutles, the subject of Python Eric Idle’s Beatles-spoofing mockumentary All You Need Is Cash.

Tributes have poured in for Innes, with actor Mark Gatiss tweeting: "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 and actor Diane Morgan said: "Fairwell Neil Innes. One of the nicest people I’ve ever met and a towering talent."

While writer and director Edgar Wright posted: "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."

With reporting from PA.