Neil Innes, Comic Songwriter Who Worked With Monty Python and Paul McCartney, Dies at 75

Member of The Rutles and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band was also called “The Seventh Python”

Neil Innes
Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images

Neil Innes, a songwriter and comedian who wrote music alongside Monty Python and Paul McCartney and was even referred to as “The Seventh Python,” has died. He was 75.

According to a statement on his website, Innes died on Dec. 29 of natural causes.

“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,” the statement reads. “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.”

The Essex-born songwriter Innes was best known for his work with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (later shortened to the Bonzo Dog Band). The band’s sole hit was the 1968 single “I’m an Urban Cowboy,” which was produced by Paul McCartney under the alias Apollo C. Vermouth. One of the band’s other songs, “Death Cab for Cutie,” would also appear in the Beatles movie “Magical Mystery Tour” in 1968.

Innes would meet up with the members of Monty Python while performing on the show “Do Not Adjust Your Set,” and in the mid-70s he contributed songs to many of the comedy troupe’s albums. He helped write the songs “Knights of the Round Table” and “Brave Sir Robin” for the classic film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” and he even appeared as an actor in that film and others, specifically playing a serf who would get crushed by a giant rabbit.

Innes performed with the Pythons at a reunion show at the Hollywood Bowl, and in 2008, a film was made about Innes’ life called “The Seventh Python.”

In the late ’70s, he formed a Beatles-parody band called The Rutles and played a character inspired by John Lennon known as Ron Nasty. The group developed a soundtrack album of songs inspired by classic Beatles tunes for a movie they starred in with Eric Idle called “All You Need Is Cash.” The songs were so similar to the Fab Four’s that Innes was even brought into court by the owners of the Beatles catalog for copyright infringement.

More recently, Innes formed the Idiot Bastard Band in 2010 and briefly performed and toured before the death of one of its members in 2011. His wife, Yvonne, told the BBC that last year he toured with a Beatles tribute act called The Bootleg Beatles.