Fred Tomlinson, 88, singer who led ‘Monty Python’ vocal troupe

NEW YORK — Fred Tomlinson, a singer and arranger who led a troupe of vocalists on “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and other British television shows, died July 17. He was 88.

His death was announced on the Monty Python website. The announcement did not say where he died.

Mr. Tomlinson led the Fred Tomlinson Singers, who sang loudly about topics like canned meat (while wearing horned Viking helmets) in “Spam Song” and lumberjacks, led by one with a penchant for cross-dressing, in “The Lumberjack Song,” which he wrote with Michael Palin and Terry Jones.

As the sartorially unconventional lumberjack, Palin sang: “I cut down trees, I wear high heels, suspendies, and a bra/I wish I’d been a girlie, just like my dear mama.” (The last words were later changed to “just like my dear papa.”)


Palin wrote on the Monty Python website that Mr. Tomlinson and his singers had been “indispensable” to the show.

“They just had the right attitude for Python — a willingness to do, wear and sing anything so long as it was different and outrageous,” Palin said. “Fred insisted on high standards, and much work and rehearsal went into ensuring that something extremely silly was also extremely polished.”

Frederick Tomlinson was born into a musical family in Lancashire, England. He attended Leeds University, where he studied music, Italian, mathematics, and statistics.

In addition to appearing on “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” his group performed on “The Two Ronnies,” “Coronation Street,” and other shows.