Neil Innes appeared at the 44th Annual Fest for Beatles Fans in Jersey City on the Hudson on Saturday, March 10, 2018. He’s known affectionately by Beatles fans as Ron Nasty from the Rutles, and also appearing in Magical Mystery Tour playing the song ‘Death Cab for Cutie’ to accompany the striptease act. He mentioned that he wasn’t contacted by the band Death Cab for Cutie in relation to their tribute in choosing their band name, but he thought it was fair game as he stole the title himself from a pulp fiction paperback cover. After all, Pablo Picasso may have once said, “Good artists copy, Great artists steal.”

Innes played several of his recent songs – some on guitar, others on the ukelele – during his storyteller style performance. His recent songs were refreshing to hear to the backdrop of our current media climate.

It’s good to laugh – very good. Innes ended his show with a couple of verses of ‘Brave Sir Robin’ which brought me chuckles too. Hope the short video up top gives you some laughs.

After the show, I asked him about his involvement in Life of Brian. Innes told me that he played the wild guy in the gladiator scene – “I think I’m going to have a cardiac arrest!” – I never knew that! See the picture below, he brought the scene alive a little for me! I was embarrassed to ask him to do it again for a picture – but he graciously obliged. Anyway, Thanks Mr. Innes!

Innes wished he had been able to be more involved in Life of Brian. He was apparently going to be one of the guards who couldn’t laugh in Caesar’s throne room and who knows what else – but I guess there were some funding issues and filming was delayed. When things started back up he was tied up in a TV contract, so he couldn’t go back for more filming. Oh well – not bad to have your one scene be a classic.

He also told some Bonzo Dog Dooh-Dah Band stories. I think he said he wanted to call it Bonzo Dog Da Da Band – or at least have the name invoke Da Da movement in some way. Da Da is certainly conveyed somehow in the vibe of the band.

They were pulled over somewhere in down home America while on tour in the (early-ish?) 60s and the cop of course thought they were up to no good. “The Heat” – as Innes referred to them in those days didn’t seem to believe they were in a band.

The officer asked if they had any guns or knives and Innes – being English – was shocked, “Oh heavens, no!”
“Well, what do you use to protect yourselves?” to which Vivian Stanshall replied from the backseat, “With good manners!”

You know, some cops would take that as cue to arrest everyone. Wising off to a cop is tricky, but he stopped his line of questioning and waited for their u-haul to catch up so he could inspect it.

When it arrived, he opened up the trailer to see a taxidermied zebra’s ass staring right back at him so he shut the door and told them to move on.

I shouldn’t tell you too many of his stories because he’s playing at the Cutting Room in NYC Tuesday, March 13th and it’s best to hear these things straight from the horse’s mouth – or in this case the Zebra’s ass – but I will leave you with a snap proving that at 73, he’s still giving gladiators cardiac arrests and sticking it to all of the Caesar’s out there! Go Neil! Keep on rocking your uke in the da da world.

innes sticking it to the caesers out there