Monty Python star Neil Innes has died at the age of 75, it has been confirmed.
Neil’s agent, Nigel Morton, announced the sad news that the musician died on Sunday and said it was ‘unexpected’ as he had not been ill.
In a statement, his family said: ‘It is with deep sorrow and great sadness that we have to announce the death of Neil James Innes on December 29 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.
‘He died of natural causes quickly without warning and, I think, without pain. 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 comedian and musician wrote a number of original songs for Monty Python and also starred in 1979’s Life of Brian.
After the TV series ended, the Essex-born star went on to play with The Rutles.
The band’s music came under fire for parodying The Beatles and Neil was even taken to court by the owners of the legendary British group’s catalogue at the time.
Neil testified under oath that he did not listen to The Beatles’ music while recording The Rutles songs.
In the 60s, Neil co-founded the group Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, whose hits included I’m The Urban Spaceman. The track earned Neil an Ivor Novello Award for best novelty song in 1968.
Years later in the 70s, he went on to collaborate with comedy group Monty Python.
Neil contributed music to several of their albums, including Monty Python’s Previous Record and The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief.
He performed sketches for the Monty Python’s final TV series following John Cleese’s brief departure, and then toured with them around the UK and overseas.
Neil remains one of the only two non-Pythons to be credited as a writer on the series.
Douglas Adams, author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is the other.
Neil married to Yvonne Catherine Hilton in 1966 and together, they share three sons Miles, Luke and Barney.
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