This Is Spinal Tap

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This Is Spinal Tap
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Rob Reiner
Produced by Karen Murphy
Written by
Music by
  • Christopher Guest
  • Michael McKean
  • Harry Shearer
  • Rob Reiner
CinematographyPeter Smokler
Edited by
Distributed by Embassy Pictures
Release date
  • March 2, 1984 (1984-03-02)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2 million [1]
Box office$4.7 million (North America) [2]

This Is Spinal Tap [3] (stylized as This Is Spın̈al Tap) is a 1984 American mockumentary film directed and co-written by Rob Reiner. It stars Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer as members of the fictional British heavy metal band Spinal Tap, and Reiner as Marty Di Bergi, a documentary filmmaker who follows them on their American tour. The film satirizes the behavior and musical pretensions of rock bands and the hagiographic tendencies of rock documentaries such as Gimme Shelter (1970), The Song Remains the Same (1976), and The Last Waltz (1978). [4] Most of its dialogue was improvised and dozens of hours were filmed.

A mockumentary or docucomedy is a type of movie or television show depicting fictional events but presented as a documentary.

Rob Reiner American actor and director

Robert Reiner is an American actor and filmmaker. As an actor, Reiner first came to national prominence with the role of Michael Stivic on All in the Family (1971–1979), a role that earned him two Emmy Awards during the 1970s. As a director, Reiner was recognized by the Directors Guild of America (DGA) with nominations for the coming of age drama film Stand by Me (1986), the romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally... (1989), and the military courtroom drama A Few Good Men (1992). He also directed the psychological horror-thriller Misery (1990), the romantic comedy fantasy adventure The Princess Bride (1987), and the heavy metal mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap (1984).

Christopher Guest British and American screenwriter, comedian, musician, director, and actor

Christopher Haden-Guest, 5th Baron Haden-Guest is a British-American screenwriter, composer, musician, director, actor, and comedian who holds dual British and American citizenship. Guest is most widely known in Hollywood for having written, directed and starred in his series of comedy films shot in mock-documentary (mockumentary) style. Many scenes and character backgrounds in Guest's films are written and directed, although actors have no rehearsal time and the ensemble improvise scenes while filming them. The series of films began with This Is Spinal Tap, and continued with Waiting for Guffman, Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration, and Mascots.


This Is Spinal Tap received positive reviews, but was only a modest success upon its initial release. However, it found greater success and amassed a cult following after it was released on VHS. In 2002, it was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress, and was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry. [5]

Cult following Group of fans who are highly dedicated to a specific area of culture

A cult following comprises a group of fans who are highly dedicated to a work of culture, often referred to as a cult classic. A film, book, musical artist, television series or video game, among other things, is said to have a cult following when it has a small but very passionate fanbase. A common component of cult followings is the emotional attachment the fans have to the object of the cult following, often identifying themselves and other fans as members of a community. Cult followings are also commonly associated with niche markets. Cult media are often associated with underground culture, and are considered too eccentric or subversive to be appreciated by the general public or to be commercially successful.

VHS Consumer-level analog video tape recording and cassette form factor standard

VHS is a standard for consumer-level analog video recording on tape cassettes. Developed by Victor Company of Japan (JVC) in the early 1970s, it was released in Japan on September 9, 1976 and in the United States on August 23, 1977.

Library of Congress (de facto) national library of the United States of America

The Library of Congress (LOC) is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the de facto national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The Library is housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; it also maintains the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia. The Library's functions are overseen by the Librarian of Congress, and its buildings are maintained by the Architect of the Capitol. The Encyclopedia Britannica describes the Library of Congress as the largest library in the world, and the library describes itself as such. Its "collections are universal, not limited by subject, format, or national boundary, and include research materials from all parts of the world and in more than 450 languages."


Filmmaker Marty Di Bergi follows the British rock group Spinal Tap on their 1982 United States concert tour to promote their new album Smell the Glove. The band comprises childhood friends David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel on vocals and guitar, bassist Derek Smalls, keyboardist Viv Savage, and drummer Mick Shrimpton.

Spinal Tap (band) parody heavy metal band

Spinal Tap is a parody band spoofing the style of heavy metal groups. The band first appeared on a 1979 ABC TV sketch comedy pilot called The T.V. Show, starring Rob Reiner. The sketch, actually a mock promotional video for the song "Rock and Roll Nightmare", was written by Reiner and the band, and included songwriter/performer Loudon Wainwright III on keyboards. Later the band became the fictional subject of the 1984 rockumentary/mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap. The band members are portrayed by Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer.

Concert tour series of concerts by a single artist in different venues

A concert tour is a series of concerts by an artist or group of artists in different cities, countries or locations. Often concert tours are named to differentiate different tours by the same artist and to associate a specific tour with a particular album or product. Especially in the popular music world, such tours can become large-scale enterprises that last for several months or even years, are seen by hundreds of thousands or millions of people, and bring in millions of dollars in ticket revenues. A performer who embarks on a concert tour is called a touring artist.

<i>Smell the Glove</i> 1982 studio album (fictional) by Spinal Tap

Smell the Glove is the name of a fictional album by the mock heavy-metal band Spın̈al Tap featured in the 1984 film This Is Spın̈al Tap. It was released by Polymer Records.

The band found early success as the Thamesmen with their single "Gimme Some Money", before changing their name and achieving a minor hit with the flower power anthem "Listen to the Flower People", and finally transitioning to heavy metal. Several of their previous drummers died in strange circumstances: spontaneous human combustion, a "bizarre gardening accident", and choking on someone else's vomit.

Flower power slogan used during the late 1960s and early 1970s as a symbol of passive resistance and non-violence ideology

Flower power was a slogan used during the late 1960s and early 1970s as a symbol of passive resistance and non-violence ideology. It is rooted in the opposition movement to the Vietnam War. The expression was coined by the American Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 1965 as a means to transform war protests into peaceful affirmative spectacles. Hippies embraced the symbolism by dressing in clothing with embroidered flowers and vibrant colors, wearing flowers in their hair, and distributing flowers to the public, becoming known as flower children. The term later became generalized as a modern reference to the hippie movement and the so-called counterculture of drugs, psychedelic music, psychedelic art and social permissiveness.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Spontaneous human combustion (SHC) is a term for the concept of the combustion of a living human body without an apparent external source of ignition. In addition to reported cases, descriptions of the alleged phenomenon appear in literature, and both types have been observed to share common characteristics in terms of circumstances and the remains of the victim.

Tufnel's amplifier dials that go up to eleven; this scene became the origin of the term up to eleven. Spinal Tap - Up to Eleven.jpg
Tufnel's amplifier dials that go up to eleven; this scene became the origin of the term up to eleven.

Several of the band's shows are canceled because of low ticket sales, and major retailers refuse to sell Smell the Glove because of its sexist cover art. Tensions arise between the band and their manager Ian Faith. David's girlfriend Jeanine, a manipulative yoga and astrology devotee, joins the group on tour and participates in band meetings, influencing their costumes and stage presentation. The band's distributor opts to release Smell the Glove with an entirely black cover without consulting the band. Despite their manager convincing the band that it would have a similar appeal to the White Album, the album fails to draw crowds to autograph sessions with the band.

Yoga physical and meditative spiritual practices from ancient India typically practiced on a yoga mat

Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. Yoga is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophical traditions. There is a broad variety of yoga schools, practices, and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The term "yoga" in the Western world often denotes a modern form of Hatha yoga, consisting largely of the postures called asanas.

Astrology Pseudoscience claiming celestial objects influence human affairs

Astrology is a pseudoscience that claims to divine information about human affairs and terrestrial events by studying the movements and relative positions of celestial objects. Astrology has been dated to at least the 2nd millennium BCE, and has its roots in calendrical systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. Many cultures have attached importance to astronomical events, and some—such as the Hindus, Chinese, and the Maya—developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations. Western astrology, one of the oldest astrological systems still in use, can trace its roots to 19th–17th century BCE Mesopotamia, from which it spread to Ancient Greece, Rome, the Arab world and eventually Central and Western Europe. Contemporary Western astrology is often associated with systems of horoscopes that purport to explain aspects of a person's personality and predict significant events in their lives based on the positions of celestial objects; the majority of professional astrologers rely on such systems.

Nigel suggests staging a lavish show, and asks Ian to order a Stonehenge megalith. However, Tufnel, rushing a sketch on a napkin, mislabels its dimensions; the resulting prop is only 18 inches high, making the group a laughingstock. The group blames Ian, and when David suggests Jeanine should co-manage the group, Ian quits.

Stonehenge Neolithic henge monument in Wiltshire, England

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, two miles (3 km) west of Amesbury. It consists of a ring of standing stones, with each standing stone around 13 feet (4.0 m) high, seven feet (2.1 m) wide and weighing around 25 tons. The stones are set within earthworks in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds.

The tour continues, rescheduled into smaller and smaller venues. Nigel is marginalized by Jeanine and David. At their next gig, at a United States Air Force base, Nigel is upset by an equipment malfunction and quits mid-performance. At their next gig, in an amphitheater at an amusement park, the band finds their repertoire is severely limited without Nigel, and improvise an experimental "Jazz Odyssey", which is poorly received.

At the last show of the tour, David and Derek consider exploring old side projects, such as a musical theatre production about Jack the Ripper. Before they go on stage, Nigel appears to tell them that their song "Sex Farm" has become a major hit in Japan, and that Ian wants to arrange a tour there. As the band performs, David invites Nigel onstage, reuniting them. With Faith reinstalled as manager, Spinal Tap performs a series of sold-out shows in Japan, despite the loss of drummer Mick, who explodes onstage.




Michael McKean and Christopher Guest met while in college in New York City in the late 1960s, and played music together. They worked with Harry Shearer and Rob Reiner on a TV pilot in 1978 for a sketch comedy show called The TV Show, which featured a parody rock band called Spinal Tap. During production of that sketch (while being burned with oil from on-stage effect) McKean and Guest began to improvise, inventing characters that became David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel. [6] [7]

Guest had previously played guitar under the name "Nigel Tufnel" on Michael McKean and David Lander's album Lenny and the Squigtones. [8]


The entire film was shot in Los Angeles County, over a period of about five weeks. [9] The visit to Elvis Presley's grave was filmed in a park in Altadena, with a mock-up of the grave site. The band sings "Heartbreak Hotel" because that was the only Elvis song for which producer Karen Murphy could obtain rights. [10]

Rob Reiner procured $60,000 from Marble Arch Productions to write a screenplay with McKean, Guest and Shearer, based on the Spinal Tap characters. They realized after a few days of writing that no script could capture the kind of movie they wanted to make, so they decided instead to shoot a short demo of the proposed film. They shopped the demo around to various studios but had no takers, until television writer-producer Norman Lear decided to back the project. [11]

Virtually all dialogue in the film is improvised. Actors were given outlines indicating where scenes would begin and end and character information necessary to avoid contradictions, but everything else came from the actors. As often as possible, the first take was used in the film, to capture natural reactions. [10] Reiner wanted to list the entire cast as writers on the film to acknowledge their contributions, but the Writers' Guild objected, and so only he, Guest, McKean, and Shearer received writing credit. [11]

Veteran documentary cameraman Peter Smokler worked as cinematographer on the film. Smokler had great instincts for camera placement on set, according to Reiner, and is responsible for the film's handheld cinéma vérité style [11] —although the cinematographer did not understand what was supposed to be funny about the movie. [10] With Smokler behind the camera, the film was shot not as a feature film, but as a documentary, without a script or traditional shooting schedule. So much footage was filmed (over 100 hours) that it eventually required three editors to complete the film. [10]

Inspirations for the film included the documentaries Don't Look Back (1967), which was made about Bob Dylan, and The Last Waltz (1978), which was about The Band. [11] The famous scene where Spinal Tap becomes lost backstage was inspired by a video of Tom Petty at a concert in Germany, who walked through a series of doors trying to find the stage at a gig, but ended up on an indoor tennis court. [12] Rob Reiner also went to see the English heavy metal band Judas Priest in concert as part of his preparation for the film. He later said, "It physically hurt my chest. The reverberation in the hall was so strong that I couldn’t stay there any longer." [13] According to Harry Shearer in the Criterion edition DVD commentary, keyboard player John Sinclair had just returned from touring with Uriah Heep when principal photography was about to begin, and told them how they had been booked to play an air force base. They subsequently used the story in the film.

In post-production, Christopher Guest was very concerned with the verisimilitude of the finger positions on the band's instruments during the concert scenes, and even re-shot some footage after the movie was edited to ensure their hands appeared in sync with the music. [10]

The character of Jeanine, David's disruptive girlfriend, was added during the production to provide a story-line to the material—in part to mollify studio executives who worried the movie would be plotless. Actress Victoria Tennant was briefly considered for the role, but June Chadwick won the part, thanks to her chemistry with the cast and her improvisation skills. [10] [11]


Critical reception

Since its release, This Is Spinal Tap has received acclaim from critics [14] and is widely regarded as one of the best films of 1984. [15] [16] [17] The film currently holds a 95% "Certified Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes based on 63 reviews, with an average rating of 8.64/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Smartly directed, brilliantly acted, and packed with endlessly quotable moments, This Is Spinal Tap is an all-time comedy classic." [18]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 4 stars out of 4 and wrote "This Is Spinal Tap is one of the funniest, most intelligent, most original films of the year. The satire has a deft, wicked touch. Spinal Tap is not that much worse than, not that much different from, some successful rock bands." [19] Ebert later placed the film on his ten best list of 1984 and would later include it in his Great Movies list in 2001 where he called it "one of the funniest movies ever made". [20] [21] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune also awarded 4 out of 4 stars, writing, "It is so well done, in fact, that unless you are clued in beforehand, it might take you a while to realize that the rock group under dissection in 'This Is Spinal Tap' does not really exist." [22] Janet Maslin of The New York Times praised it as "a witty, mischievous satire, and it's obviously a labor of love." [23] In 2002, This Is Spinal Tap was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. [24]

Critics praised the film not only for its satire of the rollercoaster lifestyles of rock stars but also for its take on the non-fiction film genre. David Ansen from Newsweek called the film "a satire of the documentary form itself, complete with perfectly faded clips from old TV shows of the band in its mod and flower-child incarnations". [25]

Even with cameos from Billy Crystal and Patrick Macnee, Spinal Tap still managed to trick many of its moviegoers into believing the band existed. Reiner observed that "when Spinal Tap initially came out, everybody thought it was a real band... the reason it did go over everybody's head was that it was very close to home". [26]

Reactions from musicians

Cover for Shark Sandwich, one of the band's fictional albums Spinal Tap 2.jpg
Cover for Shark Sandwich, one of the band's fictional albums

The movie resonated with many musicians. Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Jerry Cantrell, Dee Snider and Ozzy Osbourne all reported that, like Spinal Tap, they had become lost in confusing arena backstage hallways trying to make their way to the stage. [27] [28] [29] When Dokken's George Lynch saw the movie he is said to have exclaimed, "That's us! How'd they make a movie about us?" [30] Glenn Danzig had a similar reaction when comparing Spinal Tap to his former band The Misfits saying, "When I first saw Spinal Tap, I was like, 'Hey, this is my old band.'" [31]

Lars Ulrich told a press conference crowd that the Metallica/Guns N' Roses 1992 tour seemed "so Spinal Tap." This tour was in support of Metallica's own "black album". Shortly after the tour started, Metallica's James Hetfield suffered third degree burns on his arms after he stood too close to a pyrotechnic device. Earlier in that tour, backstage at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, Metallica met with Spinal Tap and discussed how their "black album" was a homage to Spinal Tap's Smell the Glove. This was captured on the Metallica DVD A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica .

In a 1992 interview, Nirvana explains declining the offer to be a part of the movie Singles. Kurt Cobain goes on to say, "There's never really been a good documentary on rock and roll bands." Dave Grohl then cuts in saying, "Except for Spinal Tap, [that] was the only rock movie worth watching," which Cobain agreed with, as well as mentioning Dont Look Back , by D.A. Pennebaker.

According to a 1997 interview in Spin magazine with Aerosmith rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford, "The first time Steven [Tyler] saw it he didn't see any humor in it." When the movie was released, Aerosmith's most recent album, Rock in a Hard Place , depicted Stonehenge prominently on the cover.

U2 guitarist The Edge said in the documentary It Might Get Loud that when he first saw Spinal Tap, "I didn't laugh, I wept," because it summed up what a brainless swamp big-label rock music had become. [32]

Use of Spinal Tap as a descriptive term

It became a common insult for a pretentious band to be told they were funnier than Spinal Tap. As George Lynch put it, the more seriously a band took themselves, the more they resembled Spinal Tap. [30] After seeing a 1986 performance by metal band Venom, singer Henry Rollins compared them to Spinal Tap. [33] In their respective Behind the Music episodes, Quiet Riot's Rudy Sarzo and Ratt's Robbin Crosby compared their own bands to Spinal Tap to some extent. For example, as a parallel to the "Shit Sandwich" incident, Quiet Riot's fourth album Condition Critical was given the two-word review of "Condition Terminal" by J. D. Considine in Musician magazine. His review of the short-lived band GTR's eponymous debut LP in the same magazine was "SHT". R.E.M.'s Mike Mills described the band's early tours as "very Spinal Tap", citing, among other things, the fact that they had indeed played at a United States Air Force base.

Judas Priest, the heavy metal band that Rob Reiner saw in preparation for the film, has had many drummers in its career (eight in total), which the website Ultimate Classic Rock described as "positively Spinal Tap-worthy". [34] Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery later described the run of five drummers in a year between his band's first two albums as "like Spinal Tap". [35] In the Pearl Jam documentary Pearl Jam Twenty , the members jokingly refer to the fact that while the core lineup of the group has remained unchanged (singer Eddie Vedder, guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard, and bassist Jeff Ament), the band has had five drummers. They describe this as "very Spinal Tap of us". In the documentary, a mock silent film called The Drummer Story is shown explaining what happened to their previous drummers. In it, one of them is almost eaten by a sea monster, only to be rescued by Eddie Vedder, playing a lifeguard.

The Canadian heavy metal band Anvil, whose drummer is named Robb Reiner, have been called "the real Spinal Tap" based on the misadventures depicted in their documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil . [36]


In 2008, Empire magazine ranked This Is Spinal Tap number 48 on its list of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. [37] The New York Times placed the film on their list of The Best 1000 Movies Ever Made. [38] In January 2010, Total Film placed This Is Spinal Tap on its list of The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time. [39] When Entertainment Weekly compiled their list of The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time, the publication included the film as "just too beloved to ignore". [40] In 2011, Time Out London named it the best comedy film of all time. [41] In November 2015, the film was ranked the 11th funniest screenplay by the Writers Guild of America in its list of 101 Funniest Screenplays. [42]

This Is Spinal Tap at 35: Tribeca Film Festival (The Guardian) [43]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in this list:


On October 17, 2016, actor Harry Shearer filed a $125 million fraud and breach of contract lawsuit against both StudioCanal, the successor in interest to Embassy Pictures, and Vivendi, which owns the studio. Shearer claimed that he and the other co-stars of the film received only $179 for sales of merchandise and music over the prior three decades. Shearer's lawsuit was specifically directed at StudioCanal by ordering the studio to terminate the copyright to This Is Spinal Tap. [45] In February 2017, Shearer's co-stars Christopher Guest and Michael McKean, as well as the film's director Rob Reiner, joined the lawsuit against StudioCanal and Vivendi, seeking $400 million in damages. [46] In the same month, Vivendi made an attempt to motion to the court to dismiss the case. [47] In September 2017, a judge dismissed Shearer, Reiner and McKean from the case. [48] In October 2017, Spinal Tap revised their case by adding Universal Music Group (another division of Vivendi, whose Polydor label released the film's soundtrack) as a defendant, as well as the right to reclaim their copyrights to the film, its songs and characters. [49]

In August 2018, Judge Dolly Gee ruled that Guest, Reiner, McKean and Shearer may pursue the fraud claim against Vivendi. [50]

Home media

This Is Spinal Tap was first released on VHS in 1984 by Embassy Home Entertainment, and in 1994 as part of the Criterion Collection on LaserDisc under the title, This Is Spinal Tap: Special Edition. It has also been released twice on DVD.

The first DVD release was a 1998 Criterion edition in letterbox format which used supplemental material from the 1994 Criterion LaserDisc release. It is their only double sided DVD in their catalogue. It included an audio commentary track with Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer; a second audio commentary track with Rob Reiner, Karen Murphy, Robert Leighton and Kent Beyda; 79 minutes of deleted scenes; Spinal Tap: The Final Tour, the original twenty-minute short they shot to pitch the film; two trailers that feature Rob Reiner showing a film about cheese rolling (because "Spinal Tap" itself was still in the editing room); a TV promo, Heavy Metal Memories; and a music video for "Hell Hole". Sales of this edition were discontinued after only two years and the DVD has become a valuable collector's item. Much of this material had appeared on a 1994 CD-ROM by The Voyager Company that included the entire film in QuickTime format.

In 2000, MGM Home Entertainment released a special edition with more or less the same extras from the Criterion edition, plus a new audio commentary track with Guest, McKean and Shearer performing in character throughout, commenting on the film entirely in their fictional alter-egos, and often disapproving of how the film presents them; 70 minutes of deleted scenes (some of which were not on the Criterion DVD); a new short, Catching Up with Marty Di Bergi (where it is revealed that the members of Spinal Tap were very disappointed in Di Bergi for making a "hatchet job" of their film); the Heavy Metal Memories promo and six additional TV promos; music videos for "Gimme Some Money", "Listen to the Flower People" and "Big Bottom"; and segments of Spinal Tap appearing on The Joe Franklin Show . The special features were produced by Automat Pictures. However, this version of the film was missing the subtitles that appear throughout the film (for example, introducing band members, other personnel, and location names) and did not include the commentaries from the Criterion edition. The MGM DVD is missing the subtitles burned into the film; they have been replaced with player generated subtitles.

A 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Disc release was released on July 28, 2009. It includes all bonus features from the MGM DVD plus an interview with Nigel about Stonehenge and Stonehenge from the band's Live Earth performance. It does not include the commentaries from the Criterion Collection DVD, even though MGM had stated that they would be included in the earliest press release for the Blu-ray version (most likely due to legal issues), and does not feature a "create your own avatars" element teased in publicity. However, this version does restore the subtitles that introduce band members/locales/events/etc. that were missing from MGM's DVD. The alternative, Region B, UK edition of this version additionally features a new hour-long documentary featuring famous fans, the "Bitch School" promo, the EPK for the "Back From The Dead" album, an interview with the late Reg Presley discussing the influence of the Troggs tapes on the film, and the first hour (ending with an abrupt edit) of The Return Of Spinal Tap. It does however lose the Di Bergi short and the Joe Franklin clip.

Appearances in other media

Harry Shearer, who played Derek Smalls, went on to become one of the main voice artists on The Simpsons , providing voices for Principal Skinner, Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers, Ned Flanders and many others. The members of Spinal Tap voiced cartoon versions of themselves in "The Otto Show", first playing on a concert attended by Bart and Milhouse which escalates into a riot after the band's early leave, then having their tour bus run off the road by Otto in the school bus.

The Internet Movie Database normally only allows users to rate files up to ten stars, but specifically for Spinal Tap, the site allows users to rate the film eleven stars, referencing the "Up to eleven" scene. [51] On IGN, This Is Spinal Tap was the only DVD—and seemingly the only thing reviewed on IGN—to get 11 out of 10. [52] This scene was also used in some news reports on the death of James Charles "Jim" Marshall, founder of the famous amplifier company whose equipment is featured in the scene.[ citation needed ] Richard D. Titus, UX&D Controller for the BBC adopted a Spinal Tap inspired suggestion from a colleague that the BBC iPlayer should have a volume control that goes to eleven. [53]

Fran Drescher reprised the role of Bobbi Fleckman during the fifth season of her hit television sitcom The Nanny ; it was the season's third episode, titled "The Bobbi Fleckman Story". In the episode, Fleckman is now a record label producer for The Brian Setzer Orchestra, and an ex-business partner of character Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy). Drescher's regular character Fran Fine believes Fleckman is attempting to seduce Sheffield, and impersonates her to stop it. [54]

Outside the world of music, J. K. Rowling cited Spinal Tap's series of drummers as an inspiration for the Harry Potter series, in which something bad happens to every teacher of Defence against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts, causing them to leave the job without completing a full school year. [55]

A biographical comic book was released in 2018, That Was Spinal Tap, telling both the fictional story of the band and the real life tale of the actors and others who created the characters and music. It was scripted by Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics co-creator Jay Allen Sanford.

See also

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Derek Albion Smalls is a fictional character played by Harry Shearer in the spoof rockumentary This is Spinal Tap. He is the bassist for mock British heavy metal group Spinal Tap, playing alongside guitarists Nigel Tufnel and David St. Hubbins, as well as with a plethora of drummers and keyboardists.

The Otto Show 22nd episode of the third season of The Simpsons

"The Otto Show" is the 22nd episode of The Simpsons' third season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 23, 1992. In the episode, Bart decides that he wants to become a rock star after attending a Spinal Tap concert, so Homer and Marge buy him a guitar. He shows the guitar to Otto the bus driver, who plays it and consequently makes the children late for school. Racing to Springfield Elementary, Otto crashes the school bus and is suspended until he can get his license back. Bart, who respects Otto, invites him to move in with the Simpson family.

Up to eleven popular culture idiom

"Up to eleven", also phrased as "these go to eleven", is an idiom from popular culture, coined in the 1984 movie This Is Spinal Tap, where guitarist Nigel Tufnel proudly demonstrates an amplifier whose volume knob is marked from zero to eleven, instead of the usual zero to ten. The primary implication of the reference is one in which things that are essentially the same are seen as different, due to mislabeling or the user's misunderstanding of the underlying operating principles. A secondary reference may be anything being exploited to its utmost limits, or apparently exceeding them. Similarly, the expression "turning it up to eleven" refers to the act of taking something to an extreme. In 2002 the phrase entered the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary with the definition "up to maximum volume".

David Ivor St. Hubbins is a fictional character in the mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap (1984). In the film, he is the lead singer and co-lead guitarist of the mock rock band Spinal Tap. David is played by actor Michael McKean, who improvised the role through the whole film. McKean writes in his introduction to This Is Spinal Tap: The Official Guide, "When I am called upon to generate copy about the mostly fictional entity called Spinal Tap, I usually do so in the mostly fictional character of David St. Hubbins."

Nigel Tufnel is a fictional character in the 1984 mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap. In the film, he is the lead guitarist of the rock band Spinal Tap. He was played by actor Christopher Guest.

The semi-fictional rock band Spinal Tap has released three albums in addition to several bootleg compilations that have been compiled by fans. The band also has an extensive fictional back catalog which is discussed briefly within the film This is Spinal Tap.

Lenny and the Squigtones is a fictional musical group headed by Michael McKean and David Lander, the two actors who played the characters Lenny and Squiggy on the television series Laverne & Shirley. The group's eponymous debut album, Lenny & Squiggy Present Lenny and the Squigtones, was released on the Casablanca label in 1979. Recorded live at the Roxy in Hollywood, they perform parodies of 50s rock ballads. In between, there is schtick and patter. The album is now a collector’s item because of credited guitar work by future Spinal Tap member Nigel Tufnel. A photo on the inside cover also includes two band members, "Murph", the keyboard player from The Blues Brothers, and "Ming the Merciless", purported to be Kiss drummer Peter Criss without his famous "cat" costume and make-up, though Criss denies it was him. McKean has confirmed that the drummer in the photograph is actually Don Poncher.

<i>Back from the Dead</i> (Spinal Tap album) 2009 studio album by Spinal Tap

Back from the Dead is the third studio album by Spinal Tap, though it is the fourteenth when including their fictional albums. Released on June 16, 2009, it is the first release under the Spinal Tap name since 1992's Break Like the Wind.

Robert Leighton is a British film and television editor with more than 30 feature film credits since 1980. He has edited nearly all of the films by film director Rob Reiner, commencing with This Is Spinal Tap in 1984. He has also edited three films with Christopher Guest. His work includes hit comedies and mockumentaries such as This Is Spinal Tap, Best in Show and When Harry Met Sally... as well as classic dramas such as Stand by Me and the Stephen King thriller, Misery, which garnered actress Kathy Bates a "Best Actress" Oscar. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing for the feature film, A Few Good Men (1992).


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