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Nigel Tufnel and David St. Hubbins grew up in
the same city block in London's Squatney District, knowing each
other only slightly. David played guitar in a skiffle band, the
Creatures; Nigel did the same for the Lovely Lads. The two began
jamming together outside tube stations, and eventually, formed
their first legitimate band, the Originals, later changed to
the New Originals when the East End Originals (now the Regulars)
The New Originals collapsed in 1964 without record
company support, but David and Nigel were hired by the legendary
Johnny Goodshow Revue and played the Seaside Circuit, gigging
after hours at local pubs and it was in a Southampton
tavern, The Bucket (now the Bucket and Pail), that they met and
jammed with John "Stumpy" Pepys, then drummer for Leslie
Cheswick Soul Explosion (now Les & Mary Cheswick).
When the weather turned cold, the three hooked
up with bassist Ronnie Pudding from the Cheap Dates (now Cheapdate)
and began working in London as the Thamesmen. They released their
debut single on Abbey, Gimme Some Money b/w Cups and Cakes, in
late spring 1965. It did not hit the charts immediately.
Meanwhile, the band played extensively in the
Benelux nations, particularly Amsterdam's Long-Hair Club, where
they met sixteen-year-old keyboard prodigy Jan Van Der Kvelk,
who did musical charts for the band and used his Dutch music-biz
connections to get them work. Leaving Amsterdam and Van Der Kvelk
behind, the band returned to Britain as the Dutchmen and found
Gimme Some Money climbing the charts. The band quickly changed
their name back to the Thamesmen but the single had peaked and
vanished from sight.
During the next eighteen months the group performed
under the following names: Rave Breakers, Hellcats, Flamin' Daemons,
Shiners, Mondos, the Doppel Gang, the Peoples, Loose Lips, Waffles,
Hot Waffles, Silver Service, The Mud Below, and the Tufnel-St.
Hubbins Group; personnel included: Nick Wax, Tony Brixton, Dicky
Laine, and Denny Upham (keyboards); Jimmy Adams, Geoff Clovington
(horns); Julie Scrubbs-Martin, Lhasa Apso (backing vocals); and
briefly Little Danny Schindler (vocals, harmonica), later with
Shvegman-Hayman-Kvelkman Blues Band featuring Little Danny Schindler
(Shvegman, Hayman and Kvelkman signed with CPR Records as Talmud).
Tufnel, St. Hubbins, Pudding, Upham and Stumpy
played their first gig as SPINAL TAP at the Music Membrane in
December 1966. Tap's debut hit single, released in July 1967,
on Megaphone, was Listen To The Flower People b/w Rainy Day Sun.
The A-side was penned by Ronnie Pudding, who left the band when
Flower People became a hit, to form Pudding People. Subsequent
Pudding product on Megaphone (single I Am The Music and album
I Am More Music) went nowhere.
He was replaced on bass by Derek Smalls, formerly
with England's pioneer all-white Jamaican showband, Skaface.
When Skaface broke up following the 1965 Boxing Day riots, Smalls
"gave up rock n' roll" and enrolled in London School
of Design as a design major. He re-emerged with Milage for their
only album, Milage I, then gigged semi-extensively around London
until SPINAL TAP beckoned. With a hit single under their belts,
the band recorded their first album, Spinal Tap (released in
the States as Spinal Tap Sings Listen To The Flower People and
other Favorites). The LP was produced by Glyn Hampton-Cross who
has guided much of Tap's subsequent output.
The album went gold, but the follow-up LP, We
Are All Flower People, sales, when they occurred, were disappointing.
The band panicked, fired keyboardist Upham, and toured as a four-piece
band, supporting the then-hot Matchstick Men. Under the headliners'
tutelage, Tap developed the heavier, acid-based, twin guitar
attack which earmarks SPINAL TAP product to this day.
SPINAL TAP made their biggest splash at the now-legendary
Electric Zoo concerts in Wimpton, culminating in the then-legendary
two-horn St. Hubbins/Tufnel guitar solo on Short and Sweet. Their
live recordings of the Zoo shows yielded the third Tap album,
Silent But Deadly, which established them as a top draw.
The tragic death of "Stumpy" Pepys in
a bizarre gardening accident left the band stunned, saddened
and holding auditions for a new drummer. They settled on Eric
"Stumpy Joe" Childs (from Wool Cave) and this line-up
recorded LPs: Brainhammer, Blood To Let, Nerve Damage, Intravenous
DeMilo, and the "concept" album The Sun Never Sweats.
For Sweats they hired keyboard player Ross MacLochness (ex-Kilt
Kids) and brought in session drummer Peter "James"
Bond to replace Stumpy Joe, dead of a melanin overdose.
In 1975, SPINAL TAP toured the Far East and released
their second live set, Jap Habit three discs and two pounds
of gimmick packaging. Ross MacLochness left to do missionary
work in Namibia, later releasing one solo LP, Doesn't Anybody
Here Speak English? He was replaced by Viv Savage (of Aftertaste)
for the poor-selling Bent For The Rent. The band sued Megaphone
for withholding royalties; the label threatened a precedent-setting
countersuit charging "lack of talent." By way of settlement
the band agreed to make no further records for Megaphone and,
in the words of their solicitor, to "stay the fuck out of
The group retreated to Nigel's castle in Lichtenstein
to ponder their future and pursue solo projects. Only one of
these saw the light of day: Nigel Tufnel's Clam Caravan; Derek
Smalls' projected solo album, It's A Smalls World, exists only
as an eight-track "super demo." Peter "James"
Bond split and toured with Buddahead until the memorable Isle
of Lucy Jazz Festival appearance where Bond mysteriously exploded
In the late spring of 1977, Nice 'n' Stinky, a
live cut from the two-year-old Jap Habit, became a huge surprise
hit in America. Capitalizing on this momentum, SPINAL TAP regrouped
with drummer Mick Shrimpton (once drummer with the Eurovision
Song Contest house band) and toured the States for the first
time since the late sixties. They also released new product on
Polymer Records, Shark Sandwich. This album, produced by the
band, yielded some "airplay hits," and re-established
Tap as a contender.
SPINAL TAP's twelfth album, Smell the Glove, was
the center of controversy due to its allegedly sexist cover art.
David St. Hubbins
Since the release of THIS IS SPINAL TAP, and the
band's subsequent, grotesquely abortive World Comeback Tour which
collapsed in Honshu, Japan, St. Hubbins has kept a justifiably
low profile. Having wed his longtime lady, designer Jeanine Pettibone,
in 1986, the blonde singer/guitarist has settled into the Southern
California lifestyle "big time" the happy couple
live in the fashionable Pomona area where Jeanine runs the noted
new age boutique, Krystals 'n' Kandles, while hubby David coaches
soccer for the local park commission. He also spends much of
his spare time working with up-and-coming young rock bands, producing
their "garage flavored" demos for his own Pettiwhip
"No 'next big thing' yet," quips St.
Hubbins, grinning that deeply vague grin, "but these kids
are the best."
In recent years, St. Hubbins has been collaborating
(by mail) with his amateur musician father, Ivor, on an "all-scat"
version of Bizet's Carmen.
Smalls spent the early months of the post-Tap
period trying to make alternate transportation arrangements out
of Japan. Once back in England, he took over his father's business,
a telephone sanitization service for the Wolverhampton area.
He gave up the overalls and truck when a friend and fellow bassist,
Angus Wilcoe, backslid out of his job with the Christian rock
It was during his two years with this avatar of
evangelical heavy metal (they were famous for their mass baptisms
in the slam pit) that Smalls penned his longest actual composition
to date, the seven minute riff assault "Sinbad." When
Lambsblood next-to-headlined at a Monsters of Jesus concert in
Orange County, California, a chance meeting with St. Hubbins
led to Smalls' decision to, as he puts it, "throw in my
lot with evil again."
After Japan, Nigel went on a trip around the world.
"I wanted to experience many lands. To hear many languages.
To meet many women living strange lives."
Upon his return to Brinsby, his farm in Kent,
Nigel the guitarist became Nigel the inventor. His amp-capo,
new musical notation system and folding wine glasses are only
some of the results of that very productive time.
While none have patents yet, "they stand
on their own as pleasant and helpful friends, you might say."