Neil Innes - Spring 2011
NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
Al Gomes of Big Noise : I
was among the luckiest people on the planet to get to know
and work with my brilliant friend Neil Innes, best known for his collaborations
with Monty Python, as a member of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah
Band, and as co-creator of the classic, acclaimed Grammy
Award-nominated film, soundtrack and band The Rutles.
His concert appearance
that I attended in the spring of 2011 (see the photo at
left) was one of the greatest performances I will ever see.
It should have been a massive one-man show hit on Broadway
with one of the most touching and stirring meditations on
humankind anyone has ever witnessed.
I was instrumental and honored in bringing
together Neil and Beach Boys lyricist Stephen Kalinich to
write a new track called 'A Song About Me' for a tribute
CD for Stephen called 'California Feeling 2.' It was placed on the Official Ballot for The Grammy Awards for Best Pop Solo Performance. While the
finished track is great, this early unreleased demo below
really shows Neil's beautiful personality.
Neil was an absolutely
class act and lovely man, and the blueprint for how everyone
should live their life as a human being.
To quote Apple Music, 'An amazing songwriter
and performer and probably the most
important figure in British musical comedy since the heyday
of vaudeville, Neil Innes was that rarity
among musical comedians, a side-splitting satirist who can
also write perfectly straightforward, catchy pop songs.'
Thanks Neil for making
our world that much more brighter.
In the mid-1970s, Neil
Innes became closely associated with the TV series
Monty Python's Flying Circus. He played
a major role in performing and writing songs and sketches
for the final series in 1974. His work included 'George
III' (sung by a pastiche black American girl group) which
appears in 'The Golden Age of Ballooning,' 'Where Does a
Dream Begin?' used in 'Anything Goes: The Light Entertainment
War,' the 'Most Awful Family in Britain' sketch, a humorous
stilted guitar version of the Flying Circus theme song,
and 'The Liberty Bell March,' during the credits of the
last episode, 'Party Political Broadcast.' He is one of
only two non-Pythons to ever be a credited writer for the
TV series (the other being Douglas Adams).
He appeared on-stage with the
Pythons in New York City in 1976, performing the Bob Dylanesque
'Protest Song' as Raymond Scum (complete with harmonica),
which was included on the album 'Monty Python Live at City
Center'. 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 Hollywood Bowl. He performed the songs 'How Sweet to
Be an Idiot' and 'I'm the Urban Spaceman.' He also appeared
as one of the singing 'Bruces' in the 'Philosopher Sketch.'
Innes wrote the songs for the
classic film 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail.'
He appeared in the film as a head-bashing monk, the serf
crushed by the giant wooden rabbit, and the leader of Sir
Robin's minstrels. He also had a small role in Terry Gilliam's
'Jabberwocky.' Because of these long-standing connections,
Innes is often referred to as 'The Seventh Python.'
After Python finished its original
run on UK television, Innes joined with Python's Eric Idle
on the series 'Rutland Weekend Television.'
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 1976 BBC LP, 'The Rutland Weekend Songbook.'
This show spawned The
Rutles (the 'prefab four'), an affectionate pastiche
of the Beatles, in which Innes played the character of Ron
Nasty (loosely based on John Lennon). Innes played Nasty
in an American-made spin-off NBC-TV movie, 'All
You Need Is Cash,' with Idle. The project also
yielded a hit album released by Warner Brothers Records,
and a Grammy Nomination for Best Comedy Album. More...