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Spinal Tap

In medicine, spinal tap is a synonym for lumbar puncture.

Spinal Tap is a fictitious heavy metal rock band, created for the 1984 Rob Reiner film, This Is Spinal Tap. The film was a make-believe documentary (a "rockumentary", as Reiner coined it) that satirized bands like Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith. The band's name is officially spelled with an diaeresis (two dots) over the letter 'n' (a construction that does not exist in any actual language; it is possible in Unicode (Spin̈al Tap), but not all browsers will render this properly) to satirize the use of "heavy metal umlauts" in the names of other heavy metal bands such as Motörhead. A memorable segment of the film is where a miniature replica of Stonehenge is lowered onto the stage behind them and some dwarves come on stage and dance around it, the funny part is that the band were expecting a full size replica, but the band member that designed the replica had mistakenly used the symbol for inches (") instead of feet (') on the napkin drawing.

The band was originally created by actors and comedians Michael McKean (as David St. Hubbins), Christopher Guest (as Nigel Tufnel) and Harry Shearer (as Derek Smalls) for a 1978 ABC comedy special, The TV Show. Soon after, the three comedians teamed up with Reiner to turn the idea into a full-length film. Much of the film was ad-libbed, and several dozen hours of footage were shot before Reiner edited it down to the released film. A nine hour bootleg version of the film exists and has been traded around between fans and collectors for years. The most recent DVD editions of the film include one hour of deleted footage as an extra feature.

The film starred — in addition to the three members of Spinal Tap and Reiner, who appeared as the maker of the documentary — Paul Shaffer, Fred Willard, Fran Drescher, Bruno Kirby, Howard Hesseman, and Ed Begley Jr. Dana Carvey, Anjelica Huston, and Billy Crystal also had small roles in the film.

Spinal Tap reunited in 1992 for an album of new material, partly produced by T-Bone Burnett, and a concert tour.

They later made a guest appearance in the television cartoon show The Simpsons, on which Harry Shearer is a cast member.

In 2000 a new song, "Back from the Dead" was made available for download from (external link) the official Spinal Tap website.

In 2002 the United States Library of Congress deemed the original film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Other Rock Parodies

A similar, although less successful, British heavy metal satire is The Comic Strip Presents: Bad News Tour (Michael White/Comic Strip Productions for Channel Four, 1983), written by Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayall, and starring Edmondson, Mayall, Nigel Planer, Jennifer Saunders, and Dawn French, in which an incompetent band played is followed on tour by an almost equally incompetent documentary crew. The band also guested on some TV music shows and released an album. Unfortunately the whole project was overshadowed by Spinal Tap, but that didn't prevent a sequel, The Comic Strip Presents: More Bad News from appearing in 1985.

In a similar vein, the British film Still Crazy (1998) starring Jimmy Nail, Timothy Spall, Billy Connolly and Bill Nighy depicts the chaotic comeback tour of a 1970s glam-rock band. This was more successful thanks to the script by Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais and some fine ensemble acting.

Other notable spoof rock bands include The Rutles (a Beatles parody band created by Eric Idle and Neil Innes); psychedelic parodists, The Dukes of Stratosphear (actually XTC in disguise); and The Hee Bee Gee Bees (largely the brainchild of Philip Pope, who also wrote satirical songs for the BBCs Not the Nine O'Clock News and ITV's Spitting Image).

Maybe some of the material on other spoof rock bands should have its own page(s).


as well as their fictitious back catalog... Several rare albums were mentioned in an article printed in Vinyl Hell, but their existence is in doubt.