Monty Python songwriter Neil Innes dies aged 75

Neil Innes - second from left - with other members of Monty Python.
Neil Innes - second from left - with other members of Monty Python. Photo credit: Getty

Neil Innes, songwriter and the unofficial seventh member of comedy troupe Monty Python, has died. 

The 75-year-old passed away unexpectedly on Sunday night of a heart attack, BBC News reports. He had not been suffering any illness, a family spokesperson said.

"Utterly dismayed to hear about Neil Innes. Right out of the blue," tweeted Monty Python star John Cleese. 

"A very sweet man, much too nice for his own good."

"He was a great writer and he was eccentric and he was clever without being pretentious," Monty Python's Sir Michael Palin told Radio 4.

"And he was the warmest of people to be with, he was a most lovely friend."

Innes began his career as a songwriter in the 1960s with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, recording with Beatles legend Paul McCartney and even getting a song onto the band's Magical Mystery Tour film. 

He went on to work with Monty Python, touring with the group and contributing music to films like Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Life of Brian

In the late 1970s he wrote and starred in mockumentary The Rutles, parodying the Beatles.

In the 1990s he even received a writing credit on a hit Oasis song, after they borrowed the tune to his 'How Sweet to be an Idiot' on their 1994 single 'Whatever'. 

"We have lost a beautiful, kind, gentle soul whose music and songs touched the heart of everyone and whose intellect and search for truth inspired us all," his family said in a statement. 

"He died of natural causes quickly without warning and, I think, without pain."

Innes leaves behind wife Yvonne, three sons and three grandchildren.