© 2020 WFIT
Public Radio for the Space Coast
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Comic Neil Innes, A Frequent Monty Python Collaborator, Dies At 75

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

A legend of British musical comedy died yesterday. Neil Innes was known as the seventh Python, as in "Monty Python." Long before that, he wrote and played in the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, an eclectic and surrealist musical group in London's swinging '60s.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: And Neil Innes, piano.

KELLY: Innes talked about the band on WHYY's Fresh Air in 1997.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

NEIL INNES: We were art students. We were playing in pubs and whatnot. And in fact, we started looking more like the Beatles looked before they did.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Well, the Beatles took notice and had the band play in the film "Magical Mystery Tour." Paul McCartney even produced the band's one popular hit, "I'm The Urban Spaceman."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M THE URBAN SPACEMAN")

BONZO DOG DOO-DAH BAND: (Singing) I'm the urban spaceman, baby. I've got speed.

CHANG: After the band broke up, Innes got a call from one of the creators of "Monty Python's Flying Circus," Eric Idle. Innes recounted it to NPR in 2004.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

INNES: Do you fancy coming up to the television center? - 'cause our warm-up man's ill. I said, I don't do warm-ups. Well, he said, it's 25 quid. I said, all right - done.

CHANG: Well, Innes went on to write many "Monty Python" songs and even acted in "Monty Python And The Holy Grail." He was a minstrel with an unsettling ode to Sir Robin.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BRAVE SIR ROBIN")

INNES: (Singing) He was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp or to have his eyes gouged out and his elbows broken.

KELLY: Innes and Idle also created a new band for another sketch comedy show. They became The Rutles.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OUCH!")

THE RUTLES: (Singing) Ouch, you're breaking my heart. Ouch, I'm falling apart. Ouch, ow, ow, ouch.

KELLY: Here's Innes explaining their mission on Fresh Air.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

INNES: The job was to tell the story of the Beatles in the silliest possible way.

KELLY: A year after their debut, The Rutles appeared on "Saturday Night Live." That led to the band's mockumentary, "All You Need Is Cash."

CHANG: In his later years, Innes had a one-man show. He even performed at NPR headquarters in 2011. His agent said Neil Innes died yesterday of natural causes, quickly, without warning and without pain. He was 75. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.