Spinal Tap A to Zed

Nigel rocksSolos: During the filming of "This is Spinal Tap," DiBergi captured some of Nigel’s better known solo performances—"my solos are my trademark." In one, he uses a violin as a bow on his guitar (stopping to tune the violin) and then brings out horseshoes—all techniques that he had perfected by the time Guitar Player did a cover story on him for its first issue in 1967. "I can’t really get into it unless I’ve been playing 12 or 13 minutes. Because, musically, that’s where I start to form a structure. And I usually think of what I’ve had to eat; if it’s been Indian food, then maybe I’d write a tune later on. Or if I haven’t had Indian food, if my trousers are bunchin’ up in the back. Sometimes they ride up, during the show. I think, ‘Well, good, because when I finish playing I can pull them down a little bit.’ Or I think sometimes that the roadie, the bloke that changes my cord, doesn’t smell good. Things like that." (GP) During Tap's residency at the Electric Banana in the late 1960s, Nigel recalls, he played a solo that lasted 46 minutes. "They had to change my strings while I was actually playing." (QM) Often his solos are so long and involved that Derek and David have been known to step out for dinner or a leg wax and facial. Nigel’s solo on "Break Like the Wind"—"Springtime"—has been compared to both early Steppenwolf and Moby Grape. (IST) His efforts are not highlighted on "Break Like the Wind," in part because of the mischievous antics of David and Derek. On the title track, Nigel was scheduled to share the stage with Jeff Beck, Slash and Joe Satriani. Nigel explains: "It was a rather unpleasant surprise. You see, as it is now, I do the first solo, the Spanish guitar solo. Then I do the first electric solo. Then the other chaps do their bit. But originally it was to be all mine. But Derek and David for a birthday surprise erased the rest of my playing. It came as quite a shock to walk into the studio and hear this other music and have to say, ‘Where’s the rest of what I did?’ And they started singing, ‘Happy birthday to you...’ They’d meant it as a tribute." (CT) Still, there is no doubt Nigel has the respect of his fellow band members. As David recently told Guitar World (February 1997): "No one plays like Nigel. No one even tries." (GW3) See also Short n' Easy.

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