Fred Tomlinson 1925/6-2016
It’s well nigh impossible to select one sketch as the signature moment of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Monty Python is the exalted Monty Python because even before the classic films, there were dozens of magical moments ready to be quoted by young nerds like me decades later. However, if one were forced at gunpoint by the most violent arm of the Council of Pointless Hypotheticals for some reason to nominate skits as the ultimate Monty Python creation, finalists would all the recognizable by even casual fans with one to three words and would have to include the Dead Parrot, Silly Walks, Upper Class Twit, Spanish Inquisition, and the Lumberjack Song. That last one was co-written by a man no one has ever called the Seventh Python – a man who died two days ago without a wikipedia page, and a shockingly small footprint overall on the web. Not only was he partially responsible for the memorable song, but his Fred Tomlinson Singers blended in with Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, John Cleese, and Terry Jones – all in mountie garb – to bring the tune to life.
While Tomlinson’s brightest moment may have come with the Pythons, his strongest ties were too another popular UK sketch program, The Two Ronnies. His last name was also familiar to British music fans as his older brother was Ernest Tomlinson, famed English “light music” composer.
Here’s another classic featuring The Fred Tomlinson Singers: