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Editor's note: This bio, written by Chip Rowe, appeared
in the June 2001 issue of Stagebill magazine distributed at the
Spinal Tap performance that month at Carnegie Hall, New York
Meet the Artists
SPINAL TAP first performed
together in December 1966 at the London's Music Membrane. DAVID
ST. HUBBINS (lead guitar, vocals) and NIGEL TUFNEL (lead guitar)
had met as schoolboys in Squatney, England, two decades earlier.
In 1964 they formed the Originals (later the New Originals, later
the Thamesmen). In 1967, bassist DEREK SMALLS joined the group,
and soon after Tap released its first hit, "(Listen to)
the Flower People." As Tap biographer Peter Occhiogrosso
would note, "The song captured the soon-to-be-Satanic band
in a state of innocence, imparting its belief not only that flower
people indeed exist, but that we should listen to them."
At about this time, Spinal
Tap unleashed its famous "twin-guitar" style during
performances at the Electric Zoo in Wimpton. One critic called
the development "an unmarked exit on the unlit road of rock
and roll." Rolling on the crest of the wave of the energy
of the moment, Tap birthed albums and buried drummers throughout
the Seventies. Each of its efforts was noted by critics, including
Blood to Let, Intravenus de Milo (which went bronze, with one
million copies returned), The Sun Never Sweats and Bent for the
Rent. This past year, the latter album became the first item
to be listed on Ebay in a Reverse Double Dutch Auction, in which
the seller offers to pay someone to take it off his hands.
In 1982, to support the release
of their album Smell the Glove, the band began a tour of America.
Filmmaker Marty DiBergi went along to record "the sights,
the sounds, the smells of a hard-working rock band on the road,"
but apparently settled for Spinal Tap. His rockumentary, released
in 1984, captured Tap having a great many consecutive bad days.
The band would later claim that DiBergi had "butchered"
them with selective editing (e.g., Derek's pod opened nearly
all the time, and the group eventually found the stage in Cleveland).
"People are not interested in things that go well,"
explained Nigel. "They dont want to see headlines
that say, Baby Chipmunk Found on Highway: Unharmed, Warm
and Fluffy. But if you say Overweight Man Gets Head
Stuck in Toilet, Sweating, Smelling Bad, well theyll
run down and buy that one."
Spinal Tap retired to relative
obscurity until 1991, when the group began recording Break Like
the Wind and preparing for a tour that would end with a sell-out
performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London. This past year,
MGM released enhanced video, DVD and theatrical versions of This
is Spinal Tap. The group recorded a single, Back From the Dead,
to distribute from SpinalTap.com, and also performed live on
several American television programs. A promotional blitz followed
with action figures, trading cards, Stonehenge candles, T-shirts
and caps, each of which sold in the hundreds. The band also announced
plans to appear in select North American cities with CAUCASIAN
JEFFREY VANSTON on keyboards and SKIPPY SKUFFELTON on drums.
Fans responded in small, puzzled groups, banging their heads
to an invisible beat. They knew, solemnly, respectfully, hopefully,
that this might be after 34 years of heavy metal
the last time they would see Spinal Tap perform live on stage.
Tap on, brothers and sisters. Tap on.