30 December 2019 16:40
John Cleese today led tributes to comedy and musical 'genius' Neil Innes - the honorary 'seventh member' of the Monty Python team who has died suddenly aged 75. Mr Innes, who is said to have provided the famous whistling on Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, also co-created the spoof Beatles group The Rutles and played in the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band as well as having a successful solo career. Mr Innes performed and penned songs and sketches for the Pythons' final Flying Circus TV series in 1974 after John Cleese temporarily left. Mr Cleese tweeted today: 'Utterly dismayed to hear about Neil Innes. Stephen Fry wrote: 'So sad to hear of the death of Neil Innes – the Bonzos were everything to me when I was a teenager.
Neil is survived by his wife of 50 years, Yvonne, and they had three sons, Barney, Luke and Miles, who revealed he died suddenly of natural causes yesterday. In a statement, they said: 'It is with deep sorrow and great sadness that we have to announce the death of Neil James Innes. 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. 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.' Musician and comedian Neil Innes, pictured with his wife Yvonne in 2011, has died at the age of 75, his agent has revealed Mr Innes reads a script with Monty Python team members including Terry Jones (centre left), Graham Chapman (centre right) and Michael Palin (second from right) in 1974 as they planned for the Flying Circus series Eric Idle (left) and Neil Innes (right), pictured with composer John Du Prez in 2006, were close friends for 40 years but had a public falling out about royalties John Cleese, who was initially replaced by Neil Innes when he quit Monty Python, paid tribute to his friend today Innes, as Ron Nasty of The Rutles performs live on stage at the Islington Academy in 2014. His character was based on John Lennon In 1973 he released his first solo album: 'How Sweet it is to be an Idiot', which many fans quoted in tributes today. Mr Cleese wrote: 'When he worked with Python on our stage show, I listened every night to 'How sweet to be an Idiot' on the tannoy'. Actor and writer Mark Gatiss paid tribute to him, writing on Twitter: 'Neil Innes has gone. Comedian Diane Morgan added: 'Fairwell Neil Innes. Mr Innes also wrote songs for Monty Python And The Holy Grail including performing the uncredited whistling tune for Idle's rendition of Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life. Tributes have poured in for Neil Innes, who was branded a 'genius' by fellow stars today He was only one of two non-Pythons to be credited as a writer for the TV series, alongside Douglas Adams. He also appeared in Monty Python's Life Of Brian and Terry Gilliam's Jabberwocky before joining with Eric Idle on the sketch show Rutland Weekend Television, about a fictional low-budget regional TV station. This show spawned The Rutles, a spoof of the Beatles, in which Innes played the character of Ron Nasty, who was based on John Lennon. He was also a member of the band The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, whose song I'm The Urban Spaceman won him an Ivor Novello award. He penned the song Death Cab For Cutie, which inspired the American band of the same name, and was used in The Beatles' 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour, and starred in the TV series The Innes Book Of Records. He was particularly close to Eric Idle, who was also in The Rutles, but the pair had a public falling that put their 40-year friendship in jeopardy. Innes was said to have lost patience with Idle over a vast sum of allegedly unpaid royalties for Spamalot, which was created by Idle and openly acknowledged by him to be a 'lovingly ripped-off' stage version of the film Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Neil Innes (far left) pictured with Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Graham Chapman and Michael Palin (pictured left to right in 1975's Monty Python And The Holy Grail) Neil Innes (far right) played in the Rutles with Eric Idle, which lampooned the Beatles and enjoyed a series of comical hits including All You Need Is Cash' in 1978 (pictured) Not only did Innes appear as a head-bashing monk in the cult film, he also wrote most of the music. 'Eric is going to have to explain what happened to my royalties,' Innes said in 2014. He went public in an interview saying anyone could have written those songs. 'It so happens I wrote them. 'You can quote me as saying Eric Idle is not the Messiah. Eric Idle said afterwards: 'Neil Innes is an old friend and a clever man and is touring with a tribute band to The Rutles. His spokesman added: 'Eric has nothing to do with royalties or their distribution.'