I’m absolute ‘Shocked and stunned’ to hear of the passing of Neil Innes – one of the best writers and performers of comedic songs ever – and a truly wonderful human being.
I was first aware of Neil as a member of the ‘Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band’ on the children’s TV show ‘Do Not Adjust Your Set’ which was a favourite of mine when I was about 6 years old. Their songs were very silly – and made my laugh a lot. Also on the show were Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin – and Eric has acknowledged the huge debt that Monty Python owe to the Bonzos.
Many rock stars loved the Bonzos too – not least The Beatles – who asked them to be on their film ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. Paul McCartney produced their single ‘I’m the Urban Spaceman’ which was a big hit for them.
Neil later became a member of GRIMMS – which was basically a combination of members of the Bonzos and Scaffold – including Mike McGear – Paul McCartney’s brother.
It was through the Rutles though that Neil will be best remembered – the brilliant, affectionate spoof of the Beatles, that Neil wrote all the songs for. ‘I Must Be I Love’ is still one of my favourite songs of all time – and it supposed to be a spoof!
I will be watching The Rutles tonight :>)
I was fortunate to meet Neil on many occasions. When I was running the London Beatles Fanclub magazine I spent a wonderful hour or so interviewing Neil, John Halsey,, and Rikky Faatar on the release of the Rutles ‘Archeology’ album. Neil was on great form that day – and told me some lovely stories of how heavily involved his great friend George Harrison was involved in the Rutles TV show.
My best memory of Neil is from 2001 – when I was lucky enough to be invited as a guest to the New York area ‘Fest for Beatles Fans’. Neil was one of the star guests, and I spent a long time in his company. My wife, Esther, had died a few weeks before, and Neil was gracious enough to give me time to tell him stories about her – she was a great fan too. In return, Neil told me stories to make me laugh – something I really needed at the time! I’ll always remember his incredible kindness and generosity he show me over that weekend.
Since then, our paths have crossed on many occasions, and I loved seeing his Rutles shows with ‘Barry Wom’ – but also his solo shows. His non Rutles songs have been strangely overlooked by most – but not by Noel Gallagher – or Whatever (in joke!)
I last saw Neil just a few weeks ago, when he compared the Bootleg Beatles show at the Royal Albert Hall – and was at his usual funny best. It was such a shock to hear of his passing.
It is very noticeable that people are treating his passing like that of a close relative – but Neil was a part of all our families.
So farewell brave Sir Neil – you will be much missed.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.