Neil Innes is a British writer and
performer of comic songs, best known for playing in
the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and later The Rutles.
Innes was born in Essex, and studied at the Norwich
School of Fine Art, from which he was thrown out around
1963, allegedly for "spending all day playing
music, instead of making things".
In the period 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 Doo-Dah Band (Often shortened to The
Bonzo Dog Band). Innes, with Vivian Stanshall, wrote
most of the band's songs, including "I'm the Urban
Spaceman", their sole hit, and "Death Cab
for Cutie" (which inspired an American musical
group of the same name), which was featured in the
Beatles' film Magical Mystery Tour.
In the 1970s, Innes joined with Eric Idle, of the
Monty Python team, to create the television comedy
series Rutland Weekend Television. This show spawned
The Rutles (the "prefab four"), a Beatles
parody band, in which Innes played the character of
Ron Nasty, who was loosely based on John Lennon. Innes
played Nasty in All You Need Is Cash.
Innes also contributed to the Pythons' final BBC
TV series in 1974 - he wrote a squib of a song called "George
III" (sung by a pastiche black American girl group)
which appears in the episode "The Golden Age Of
Ballooning", he wrote the song "Where Does
A Dream Begin?" (included in the episode "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 one being Douglas
Adams (who co-wrote another sketch in "Party Political
Broadcast," in which a patient profusely bleeding
from the stomach is made to sign numerous senseless
forms before being treated).
Innes appeared in Monty Python and the Holy Grail,
playing a head-bashing monk and the leader of Sir Robin's
minstrels, and in Terry Gilliam's Jabberwocky. Because
of these long-standing connections he is often referred
to as "the Seventh Python".
On BBC television, he performed songs and sketches
in The Innes Book of Records, punning on the Guinness
Book of Records. The series has not been repeated.
During the 1980s, Innes found a new, younger audience,
when he played the role of the Wizard in the children's
television series Puddle Lane.
He also 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 television
included the characters Sad Sack, Hi-Fi, Lucy, Dotty,
Back-to-Front and Princess.