Above you see a documentary that I have been wanting to watch for fourteen years.
When I first heard about The Seventh Python, a film devoted to Neil Innes, who was a member of the Bonzo Dog Band, an auxillary member of Monty Python and even rubbed shoulders with The Beatles, I needed to see it.
Only it never came out. It was shown at a few festivals and a DVD release was promised, but it never happened. Every few months I’d remember to Google it, and nothing showed up. Until last week, that is. Somebody uploaded what looks like a workprint to YouTube a little over a year ago, and I’m bringing it to you tonight before it gets yanked down. Sadly, Innes dies suddenly in December, 2019, so he never really got the acclaim he deserved in his lifetime. As a Bonzo, a Python, and most importantly as a Rutle, Neil Innes has long been a personal hero of mine.
If it weren’t for The Rutles, I may have never become the rabid Beatles fan that I am today.
I was a comedy nerd who ate up everything that was related to Monty Python and Saturday Night Live when NBC aired a cross-country collaboration in 1978 that sent up the entire Beatles mythos. Neil Innes, who created The Rutles’s music and co-created the concept with Eric Idle, captured the sound of The Beatles’ music so well that it clicked with me, and sent me down the rabbit hole to learn all I could about The Fab Four so that I could get all the jokes in All You Need Is Cash, The Rutles mockumentary.
Innes started out as a co-leader of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, who had ties to both The Beatles (they appear in Magical Mystery Tour and had a single produced by Paul McCartney) and Monty Python (The Bonzos were on the pre-Python show, Do Not Adjust Your Set with Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam’s animation, and Innes was a credited writer on the final season of the Monty Python TV show and was essentially a member of the troupe for Monty Python and The Holy Grail). Innes also had a solo career (and had one of his songs plagarized by Beatle imitators, Oasis), and was a beloved host of radio programs and children’s shows in the UK.
But you’ll find all that out if you watch the documentary, quick, while you can.