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Neil Innes, Monty Python Songwriter And Collaborator, Dies at 75

Neil Innes performs in New York City in 2014

Photo: Al Pereira/Getty Images

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Neil Innes, Monty Python Songwriter And Collaborator, Dies at 75

The GRAMMY-nominated writer, musician and comedian gained international fame via his various comedic and musical parody projects

GRAMMYs/Dec 31, 2019 - 04:17 am

Neil Innes, a celebrated writer, musician and comedian best known for his work with The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and The Beatles parody band, The Rutles, as well as his collaborations with renowned U.K. comedy group Monty Python, died Dec. 29. He was 75.

According to his agent, Innes "passed away unexpectedly" last Sunday. In a statement posted on Innes' official website, his family confirmed that he "died of natural causes quickly without warning and... without pain."

Monthy Python co-founder John Cleese shared his condolences in a post on his official Twitter page, noting that he was "utterly dismayed" by the news and calling Innes "a very sweet man, much too nice for his own good."

Born in Danbury in Essex, England, Innes attended Goldsmiths College School of Art in London, where he would join The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (The Bonzos) in 1963. The group, which mixed elements of satirical comedy rock, psychedelic pop and avant-garde art, initially gained national attention via the U.K. TV series "Do Not Adjust Your Set," which featured daily performances from the band throughout the late '60s. 

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The Bonzos are best known for their 1968 hit, "I'm The Urban Spaceman," which reached No. 5 in the U.K. charts. Written by Innes, the track featured production by Paul McCartney, under the pseudonym Apollo C. Vermouth, and Gus Dudgeon. (The Bonzos would later perform their track "Death Cab For Cutie" in The Beatles' 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour; Ben Gibbard has since cited this track's title as the inspiration behind the moniker of his band of the same name.)

Following The Bonzos' breakup in 1970, Innes formed The World with former members of the band. The group, which aimed for commercial success beyond the previous band's satirical comedy rock style, released one album, Lucky Planet, in 1970.

That same year, in 1970, Innes formed the band GRIMMS, which released three albums throughout the '70s, including GRIMMS (1973), Rocking Duck (1973) and Sleepers (1976). 

Innes then began to work closely with Monty Python, a much-revered comedy sextet from England, in the mid-'70s. Recognized as an unofficial member of the comedy troupe—a 2008 musical documentary, The Seventh Python, chronicles his life and career—Innes contributed to multiple Monty Python TV sketches and albums, in addition to touring live with the comedy crew. He also wrote original songs for and appeared in the group's classic film Monty Python and the Holy Grail and later appeared in the follow-up film, Monty Python's Life Of Brian.

Innes then worked alongside Monty Python member Eric Idle on "Rutland Weekend Television," a U.K. TV sketch show that ran from 1975–1976. The show, which featured music by Innes, inspired The Rutles, a pastiche and parody group of The Beatles. The act was the main subject of the 1978 mockumentary TV film All You Need Is Cash, also known as The Rutles, which featured cameos from original Beatles member George Harrison. The film's soundtrack album received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Comedy Recording at the 21st GRAMMY Awards held in 1979.

In 1979, Innes created a solo TV series, "The Innes Book Of Records," which ran for three seasons in the U.K. and featured some of his older material and new music written for the show. 

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Later in his career, Innes transitioned into children's entertainment during the '80s. In addition to playing live-action roles on children's TV shows, he composed music and provided voice-over work for various programs and cartoons.  

Following reunion concerts and releases for his various projects, Innes formed the comedy musical collective The Idiot Bastard Band in late 2010. 

Innes is survived by his wife Yvonne, his three sons, Miles, Luke and Barney, and his grandchildren, Max, Issy and Zac. 

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Glenn Danzig

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion

GRAMMYs/Aug 22, 2017 - 05:28 am

There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.

The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.

This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.

"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."

Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.

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Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

Lady Gaga

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Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

GRAMMY winner pledges support for those impacted by hurricanes this year through Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program

GRAMMYs/Oct 12, 2017 - 11:03 pm

On Oct. 10 Lady Gaga announced she is devoting her $1 million donation in support of those impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the earthquakes in Mexico, to a specific cause — the mental and emotional well being of children and youth.

Gaga announced on her Born This Way Foundation website she will support Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program, which uses a variety of tools to help young people deal with trauma in the wake of natural disasters.

"Through a curriculum that includes cooperative play, discussion, art, meditation, and mindfulness practices, young people learn to recognize and understand their emotions and develop healthy coping skills," Gaga wrote. "Tens of thousands of youth have benefited from the program since it’s development in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Save the Children is working to bring it to hundreds of thousands more in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico."

The announcement came on World Mental Health Day, and the Fame Monster has invited all of us to step up and consider making a contribution to the Journey of Hope program to support to mental and emotional needs of children.

"Mental health is just as vital to our wellbeing as physical health. That’s true for each of us, everyday, but it’s especially important for those coping with disaster and recovering from trauma," wrote Lady Gaga. "We must do everything within our power to support the full, vibrant recovery of these communities, from meeting their immediate needs to helping them to rebuild sustainably."

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

 
This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.