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Spinal Tap. (2009, January 10). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:45, January 21, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Spinal_Tap&oldid=263200157

Spinal Tap is a semi-fictional hair metal band, the subject of the 1984 rockumentary/mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap. The band members are portrayed by Michael McKean (as David St. Hubbins), Christopher Guest (as Nigel Tufnel) and Harry Shearer (as Derek Smalls). They first appeared in a 1978 ABC comedy special, The TV Show. The same trio of actors would be reunited as the American folk music revival band The Folksmen in the 2003 mockumentary A Mighty Wind.

The film was accompanied by a soundtrack album of the same name. In the years since the film was made the actors who portrayed the band members have played concerts and released music under the Spinal Tap name.

Fans of Spinal Tap have assembled the "mostly fictional" details about the band based on the film, albums, concerts and related promotional material. This includes a list of the band's former members and a discography.

Spinal Tap has had a succession of drummers, all of whom have appeared to have died under odd circumstances: one in a "bizarre gardening accident"; another "choked on vomit," (although it was never determined whose vomit it was, as "you can't really dust for vomit"), and a third from apparent spontaneous human combustion onstage, leaving only a small green "globule" on his drum throne.

Spinal Tap "reunited" in 1992 for Break Like the Wind, an album produced in part by T-Bone Burnett, an accomplished musician and record producer. The album was accompanied by a promotional audition for a new drummer attended by Stephen Perkins of Jane's Addiction, Gina Schock of The Go-Go's, and Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, who auditioned in a fireproof suit. A promotional concert tour followed, which included an appearance at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, where they performed "The Majesty of Rock", a song they dedicated to Mercury and released as a single. The band also released the single "Bitch School."

On July 1, 1992, Tap crossed 5 time zones for three performances in St. John's, Newfoundland, Barrie, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia for Much Music and Molson's Great Canadian Party. For each performance of "Stonehenge", the miniature monument prop was delivered on stage in a courier envelope.

In 2000 the band launched a web site named "Tapster" where their song "Back from the Dead" was made available for download. Tapster was a parody of Napster, a peer-to-peer file sharing network. [1] [2]

In 2001, the band "reunited" for the nine-city "Back from the Dead Tour" that began on June 1 at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, California. The tour included a show at Carnegie Hall in New York City and ended in Montreal in mid-July at the Just for Laughs festival. The opening act for some of these shows were The Folksmen, the folk trio seen in the film A Mighty Wind, and also performed by Guest, McKean and Shearer.

In 2007, Tap reunited again, this time to help combat global warming. "They're not that environmentally conscious, but they've heard of global warming." said Marty DeBergi. "Nigel thought it was just because he was wearing too much clothing "" that if he just took his jacket off it would be cooler." This reunion also included the release of a new song called "Warmer Than Hell". The band played on the London leg of the SOS/Live Earth concert series, and Rob Reiner has directed a short film (entitled Spinal Tap) which was released on the Live Earth website on 27 April.[1] The film reveals that Nigel Tufnel is now working as a farm hand looking after miniature horses. He plans to race them. David St Hubbins is currently working as a Hip-Hop producer and Derek Smalls is in rehab for being addicted to the Internet.

The band appeared as the musical guests on an episode of Saturday Night Live in the Spring of 1984. Barry Bostwick was the host. At this time producer Dick Ebersol approached Shearer, Guest and McKean to join the cast. Shearer and Guest accepted. (Mckean would not join until ten years later, by which time original producer Lorne Michaels was back at the show's helm.) Shearer's stint on SNL the following season--his second, the first having been the 1979-80 season--was to be short-lived, following creative disputes with the show's management. Shearer has said that when Ebersol made the offer during the Spinal Tap guest appearance "I didn't realize that guests were treated better than cast members."

In 1985, at the invitation of Ronnie James Dio, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer took part in the heavy metal benefit project Hear 'n Aid, to raise money for Ethiopian refugees. McKean and Shearer met dozens of real life metal stars, many of whom were huge fans of Spinal Tap. The musicians greatly enjoyed meeting McKean and Shearer and sharing their own stories of disastrous gigs and malfunctioning special effects.

As part of the promotion surrounding Break Like the Wind, Spinal Tap was portrayed in "The Otto Show" episode of the animated series The Simpsons, a television show in which Shearer is one of the principal voice actors. In The Simpsons they are as comically inept as in the film. The Simpsons follows the approach of the original film by presenting the group as if they were a real group. After a lacklustre onstage performance (during which a riot breaks out), Spinal Tap are shown apparently killed in a tour bus accident, caused by Otto's erratic driving.

In 1993 "Nigel Tufnel" appeared in the rockumentary Joe Satriani: The Satch Tapes.

In 1994, The Return of Spinal Tap was released on video; most of this was live material from a 1992 performance at the Royal Albert Hall, but it also included some interviews and follow-up on the band members.

In 2000, while promoting Tapster.com, Spinal Tap appeared and performed on the short-lived series VH1 The List and appeared on the Late Show.

A minor character in the 2004 film Sons of Provo, a mockumentary about a fictitious Mormon boy-band, is named "N. Tufnel" in a hardly obscure tribute to Spinal Tap.

In 2006, "Nigel Tufnel" appeared in a Volkswagen TV commercial highlighting their offer of a free, exclusive First Act guitar with the purchase of qualifying automobiles. The guitar features knobs and inlays with the Volkswagen logo and pre-amps that allow it to be played through the car's stereo system. Also in 2006, the song "Gimme Some Money" was used in a TV commercial for OPEN from American Express, "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight" appeared in Harmonix's video game Guitar Hero 2 and "Christmas with the Devil" appeared in BBC One promo spots for the network's Christmas programmes.

In 2007, while accepting an award from the BBC Two program The Culture Show, Christopher Guest broke into Nigel Tufnel, and considered what his wife and kids would make of the Mark Kermode shaped award. This sequence of the show has been added to YouTube.

On July 7, 2007 Spinal Tap played at Wembley Stadium in London [3] along with many major bands and groups as part of Live Earth, a Climate Change awareness concert. Their set included a new song written for the occasion, "Warmer Than Hell". During their final number, the song "Big Bottom", St. Hubbins and Tufnel both picked up basses. Spinal Tap was also joined by "every bass player in the known universe", including Nate Mendel (of the Foo Fighters); Robert Trujillo, Kirk Hammett, and James Hetfield (Metallica); Gordon Moakes (Bloc Party); and Adam Yauch (a.k.a. MCA), of Beastie Boys. They were also joined on back-up vocals by Annette O'Toole, Michael McKean's wife.

In May 2008, Nigel Tufnel mysteriously cropped up in five viral videos found on YouTube, expounding his nonsensical theories about Stonehenge and who was responsible for building it. His claims to have invented "decoder" experiments capable of unveiling the true purpose of the monument are, as yet, unproven.

On an episode of MAD TV Shearer, Guest and McKean appeared as a folk band.

Spinal Tap. (2009, January 10). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:45, January 21, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Spinal_Tap&oldid=263200157

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