Monday, December 30, 2019

Remembering Funny Man, Neil Innes

Neil Innes at the Chicago Fest for Beatle Fans in 2008
The photo was taken by Sara Schmidt
Do not copy without permission

I am sure that many of you were as surprised as I was this morning when I read that Neil Innes passed away on December 29, 2019.    Neil was a friend to Beatle fans around the world and his personality and humor, as well as his music, left an impact on all of us. 

Neil's biggest Beatles connection would be his performance with the Bonzo Doo Dah Band of "Death Cab for Cutie" in the Magical Mystery Tour film.    Neil's association with the Fab 4 did not end there.    For many of us, Neil is best known as "Ron Nasty" the John Lennon figure in the Rutles movie.   I for one LOVE the Rutles.   The movie is hilarious and Neil's portrayal of Ron Nasty is spot on and amazing.   Plus the songs in the Rutles films that Neil mostly wrote are the best.  Some of my favorites are Ouch, Hold my Hand, Cheese and Onions and Get Up and Go.  

Neil knew all four of The Beatles.  I have heard that John Lennon really thought the Rutles was funny and especially enjoyed Cheese and Onions.   However, he was friends with George Harrison.   Neil spent time with George at Friar Park and he appeared in the Crackerbox Palace video as the lady that pushes the pram.   Both Neil and George were avid ukelele players. 

Neil was part of the Monty Python's and as one of the members, he sang at the Concert for George in the much-needed comedy portion of the show. 

In recent years, Neil Innes had been hitting the Beatle fan conventions.   He amused everyone with his songs and stories.   He was a crowd favorite guest for certain.   One of the most moving performances he would do was the George song "Isn't it a Pity," which he would sing in dedication to the memory of his friend. 

Personally, I saw him at least four times at various Beatlefests over the year.   One of my favorite memories was when I saw him and three of the other Rutles in 1997.  They gave a great concert as well as a press conference in character.   It was great!   That is when I got their autograph.  I was so nervous because I just love the Rutles.   Neil asked me my name and I looked over at my mom and said, something like "She named me."  LOL!   What was that about?    When I dug through my past Fest photos, I didn't see a photo of me and Neil, so I guess I never stood in line to get one.   I did, however, take several photographs of him performing.    All I can say is, "Isn't it a Pity."

My autographs of the three Rutles 

Neil Innes performing at the 2008 Fest for Beatle Fans in Chicago
Photo taken by Sara Schmidt
Do not use without permission 


  1. Very sad to hear of Neil's passing. I also got to meet him at a Beatles convention. I got an autograph but didn't get a photo because I didn't bring a camera (in the days before cell phones). I played a big block of The Rutles on my Alexa tonight. 😥 Thanks for the beautiful music. ❤️ (MarkZapp)

  2. My wife Donna & I got to have hang out with Neil and Billy Preston in NYC in 2005. Both were as nice as can be. R.I.P.'ll be missed!!!

  3. How great to have seen The Rutles perform and do a press conference. My first memories of Neil Innes, before I knew he had anything to do with 'Urban Spaceman', was his TV series 'The Innes Book of Records.' Those music videos of songs he wrote and sang were captivating, and all framed as anthropological discoveries made by an (urban) spaceman on a phonograph record after, what, the end of the world? My favorite was his music video for 'It Won't Be Long Now' - - talk about black humor! You can still see excerpts on youtube.

  4. How could anyone who worked with both the Beatles and the Pythons not be amazing? Neil was one of those amazing talents that was only eclipsed by the brilliance of the other people he worked with (George, Eric Idle, etc.). It's so sad to have lost him so close to the new year. If you want to know what he was capable of, find "How Sweet to be an Idiot" on YouTube. It's like what would have come out if John had written "Fool on the Hill".

  5. Saw Neil earlier this year and his version of All Things Must Pass brought a huge tear to my eye. RIP Neil