R.I.P. Ric Parnell, Spinal Tap Drummer Dead at 70

Parnell played the role of Mick Shrimpton in the fictional heavy metal band

Ric Parnell Spinal Tap
Ric Parnell in This Is Spinal Tap

    Ric Parnell, aka Mick Shrimpton of the fictional heavy metal band Spinal Tap, has died at the age of 70.

    The news came from the band’s Harry Shearer (aka Derek Smalls), who praised Parnell on Twitter: “No one ever rocked harder.”

    The fictional band starred in the iconic 1984 mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap. Parnell played alongside Shearer, Michael McKean (aka David St. Hubbins), Christopher Guest (aka Nigel Tufnel) in the group.


    Spinal Tap also released a soundtrack for the film, featuring comedic songs such as “Stonehenge” and “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight.” The band is widely considered the greatest metal parody act ever, commenting on the excess and commercialism of metal and hard rock in the 1980s.

    As for Parnell, his role as drummer is a running punchline throughout This Is Spinal Tap, as all previous Spinal Tap drummers had died prior to his stint in the band. Parnell eventually suffers the same fate, spontaneously combusting at the the end of the film.

    Spinal Tap would remain semi-active in the ensuing years, reuniting for a comeback album and tour with 1992’s Break Like the Wind, followed by another trek in 2001. Parnell also played drums on those albums and tours, but since his Mick Shrimpton character exploded in the movie, he assumed the role of Mick’s brother Ric Shrimpton.


    Parnell’s musical legacy extends beyond Spinal Tap, as well. A professional musician in his own right — like the other members of Spinal Tap — Parnell has credits on albums by prog pioneers Atomic Rooster and Horse in the 1970s and declined offers to play in Journey and Whitesnake in the ’80s

    There is currently a GoFundMe to aid in covering funeral costs. Below you can revisit Parnell and Spinal Tap’s infamous “Stonehenge” performance below.

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