Neil James Innes (born 9
December 1944 in Danbury, Essex) is an English writer and performer
of comic songs, best known for his
collaborative work with Monty Python,
and for playing in the Bonzo Dog
Doo-Dah Band and later The
spent a good part of his childhood with his parents and
two-year-older brother Iain in post-war Germany during his Scottish father's
military assignment as a Warrant Officer.
He took piano
lessons from age 7 to 14. He taught himself to play guitar. Neil's
parents were supportive of their sons' interests. His father showed
some artistic ability as he frequently drew and painted.
attended Thorpe Grammar School and the Norwich
School of Art.
Because Norwich lacked a particular art
curriculum in which he was interested, he transferred to
Goldsmith's School of Art, where he met Yvonne Catherine Hilton,
majoring in drama, and they married on March 3, 1966. They have
three sons, Miles (b. 1967), Luke (b. 1971), and Barney (b. 1977).
They have two grandchildren.
Innes graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art from
Goldsmith's School of Art in 1966. During the period of 1962 to
1965, Innes and several other art school students started a band
which was originally named The Bonzo Dog Dada Band after their
interest in the art movement Dada
, but which
was soon renamed the Bonzo Dog
(later shortened to The Bonzo Dog Band
Innes, with Vivian Stanshall
most of the band's songs, including "I'm the Urban Spaceman
", their sole
hit, (produced by Paul McCartney
under the collective
pseudonym Apollo C. Vermouth) and "Death Cab for Cutie
inspired an American musical group
of the same name
), which was featured in the Beatles
' film Magical Mystery Tour
won an Ivor Novello Award
Best Novel(ty) Song in 1968 for "I'm the Urban Spaceman
In the late 1960s, Innes appeared with the Bonzo Dog Band on both
seasons of the UK children's television series Do Not Adjust Your Set
also featured future members of the Monty
After the breakup of Bonzo Dog Band, Innes joined with former Dog
Band bassist Dennis Cowan, drummer Ian Wallace
and guitarist Roger McKew
to form The World, a band hoping for "more commercial" success with
music ranging from rock to pure pop, yet still retaining some
Doo-Dah flavor and even a bit of the humor. Unfortunately for them,
by the time their sole album Lucky Planet
was released in
1970, the members had already disbanded and were moving on to other
The Grimms & Monty Python
In 1973 Neil worked with Andy Roberts, Adrian Henri
, Brian Patten
, John Gorman
, David Richards, John
Megginson, Ollie Halsall
, and Gerry
Conway in the band GRIMMS, who released their self titled album and
in 1973 followed by their last album
In the mid-1970s, Innes became closely associated with the TV
series Monty Python's
. He played a major role in performing and
writing songs and sketches for the final series in 1974 (after
left). He wrote a squib of a
song called "George III" (sung by a pastiche black American girl
group) which appears in "The Golden Age Of Ballooning". He also
wrote the song "Where Does A Dream Begin?" (included in "Anything
Goes: The Light Entertainment War") and he co-wrote the "Most Awful
Family In Britain" sketch in the last episode, "Party Political
Broadcast". He is one of only two non-Pythons to ever be credited
writers for the TV series, the other being Douglas Adams
(who co-wrote another sketch in
"Party Political Broadcast").
appeared on stage with the Pythons in New York City in 1976, performing the Bob
Dylanesque "Protest Song" (complete with harmonica) on the
album Monty Python
Live at City Center.
He was introduced as Raymond
Scum. After his introduction he told the audience "I've suffered
for my music. Now it's your turn." In 1982 he travelled to the
States with the Pythons again, appearing in Monty Python Live at the
. He performed the songs "How Sweet To Be An Idiot
"I'm the Urban Spaceman
also appeared as one of the singing "Bruces" in the Philosopher
Innes wrote the songs for Monty Python and the Holy
. He appeared in the film as a head-bashing monk, the
crushed by the giant wooden rabbit, and
the leader of Sir Robin's minstrels. He also had a small role in
. He performed with the
Pythons on stage, including their legendary Hollywood Bowl concert.
Because of these long-standing
connections, Innes is often referred to as "the Seventh
The Rutles, Rutland and Innes Book of Records
After Python finished its original run on UK television, Innes
joined with Python's Eric Idle
series Rutland Weekend
. This was a Python-esque sketch show based in a
fictional low-budget regional television station. It ran for two
series in 1975-76. Songs and sketches from the series appeared on a
LP, The Rutland Weekend
. This show spawned The
(the "prefab four"), an affectionate pastiche of the
, in which Innes played the character
of Ron Nasty, who was loosely based on John
. Innes played Nasty in an American-made spin-off TV
movie, All You Need Is
, with Idle. The project also yielded an album
released by Warner Brothers
After Rutland Weekend
, Idle relocated to the USA, and Innes went on
to make a solo series in 1979 on BBC
The Innes Book of
which ran for three seasons and contained a few
of Innes' previous music compositions along with new ones written
for the show.
During the 1980s, Innes delved into children's entertainment. He
played the role of the Wizard in the live-action children's
television series Puddle Lane
made by Yorkshire Television
for the ITV
He voiced the 1980s children's cartoon adventures of The Raggy Dolls
, a motley collection of
"rejects" from a toy factory. The 65 episodes for Yorkshire
included the characters Sad Sack, Hi-Fi, Lucy,
Dotty, Back-to-Front and Princess.
He also composed the music for children's television including
, The Raggy Dolls
, The Riddlers
and Tumbledown Farm
In addition, he brought Monty Python's Terry Jones' faerie-tale
book "East of the Moon" to television. He contributed all the
stories and music on this production. He was involved with the
enormously popular children's show Tiswas. With its own website,
the show's popularity is still demonstrated.
Different reunion concerts
At the time of The Beatles
CDs, there was a revival of interest in The Rutles
and a new album was released in 1996
In 1998, Innes hosted a 13-episode UK (Anglia) television show
called "Away with Words" on which he travelled to different areas
of Britain to explore the origins of well-known words and
Innes took part, along with the remaining Monty Python members, in
the 2002 Concert for George
memory of George Harrison
Innes was occasionally heard (often as the butt of jokes) standing
in as the pianist for the BBC Radio 4
panel game I'm Sorry I
Haven't A Clue
Innes toured the UK in 2006 and produced a new Bonzo CD as part of
the Bonzo Dog Band's 40th Anniversary tour.
In 2008 he undertook the Neil Innes and Fatso 30th Anniversary
tour, playing predominantly Rutles numbers with a few Bonzos and
A film about Neil Innes called The Seventh Python
premiered at the
Mods & Rockers Film
on June 26, 2008.
||"How Sweet To Be An Idiot"/"The Age of Desperation"
||United Artists UP
||"Momma B"/"Immortal Invisible"
||United Artists UP 35639
||"Re-cycled Vinyl Blues"/"Fluff On the Needle"
||United Artists UP 356756
||"Lie Down and Be Counted"/"Bandwagon"
||United Artists UP 35745
||"What Noise Annoys a Noisy Oyster"/"Oo-Chuck-A-Mao-Mao"
||United Artists UP UP35722
||"Lady Mine"/"Crystal Balls"
||Arista ARISTA 106
||"Silver Jubilee (A Tribute)"/"Drama On a Saturday Night"
||Arista ARISTA 123
||"Protest Song"/"The Hard-To-Get"
||Warner Brothers K
||Polydor POSP 107
||"Kenny and Liza"/"Human Race"
||Polydor 2059 207
||"Them"/"Rock of Ages"
||MMC MMC 100
||MMC MMC 103
||PRT 7P 298/12P 298
||"Dear Father Christmas"/"City of the Angels"
||Making Waves SURF 104
- Words of
Innespiration - The Lyrics & Unplanned Career of Neil
- Neil Innes on MSN Music
- Words of Innespiration: The Lyrics and Unplanned Career of Neil
- Grimms Page
Innes & Fatso Retrieved 7 October 2008
- IMDB entry
- picture sleeve, also released as a 12"