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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 City.


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 don’t 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 they’ll 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.

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