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Jeff Beck: Rock 'n Roll Legend

Jeff Beck, the English rock guitarist who was heavily influenced by Nigel (and vice versa), died on Jan. 10, 2023. Below is a photograph of Beck, not a scene from TIST.

Coming Soon: Slap Taps' Balls

An officially licensed pinball machine that allows you to slam Taps' balls against posts or paddle them hard with both hands is scheduled for release in early 2023. There's more info at spinaltappinball.com.

Spinale Tapestrie

Props to @lexistwit

Tap is Back

The boys are back on the internet at spinaltap.com, although, per usual, no one knows who they are or what they are doing, but their legacy remains.

Band Now Has Official Merch

Spinal Tap released this statement on Sept. 29, 2021: "No wonder musicians go hungry. After decades when only fans and pirates made any cash out of Spinal Tap merchandise, the band have finally got their act together – it only took 30 years! A carefully curated collection of items, designed lovingly by Nigel, David and Derek and touched by the Spinal Tap magic, are on sale at shop.spinaltap.com." If you have been loved and touched by Tap at some point over the years, it seems fair to return the favor.

Derek to Play Bass on Kelly Clarkson Show

Unconfirmed, but rumor has it that Derek will make an appearance playing bass on The Kelly Clarkson Show on Sept. 29, 2021.

The Flaming Lips Perform in Plastic Bubbles

The band performed in plastic bubbles on Jan. 22 and Jan. 23, 2021, for concerts in Oklahoma City, to protect the performers and audience from COVID-19. Wayne Coyne of the Lips earlier sketched out what he thought the bubble concert would look like, although he didn't do it on a napkin.



Nigel's Influences

George Howlett, a London-based musician and writer who specializes in jazz, rhythm, Indian classical and global improvised music, presented in Guitar World in March 2020 his "full harmonic-melodic analysis" of Nigel's solo captured in This is Spinal Tap, tracing its roots to modal jazz, Bach and the ancient Hindustani tradition of North India, which was immediately evident to anyone who listened to the entire performance and not just the rockumentary's 60-second clip. But it was good of George to bring this to the masses.

Derek Releases New Album, Songs, Videos

Derek Smalls on April 13, 2018, released his first solo album, Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing), 43 years after he abandoned his initial effort to branch out with It's a Smalls World. You can order the CD or vinyl, download the MP3 or stream it at Amazon. The bassist also has a website with music videos and tour dates.

The songs include Rock and Roll Transplant, It Don't Get Old, Smalls Change, Butt Call, Memo to Willie, Gimme Some (More) Money, Hell Toupee, Gummin' the Gash, She Puts the Bitch in Obituary and When Men Did Rock.

Guest artists include Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers), David Crosby, Donald Fagen (Steely Dan), Jane Lynch, Steve Lukather (Toto), Joe Satriani, Paul Shaffer, Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Richard Thompson, Rick Wakeman (Yes) and Dweezil Zappa.

It's a Smalls World was recorded in 1975 when Tap was on hiatus after a lawsuit. It is said to exist only as an eight-track demo tape but the bass tracks were released in 1979 by Skaface as It's a Dubs World.

Origin Story?

Mark Westin, who had planned to lead a Spinal Tap boot camp in New York at the Beacon Music Factory, writes:

I'm proud to say I saw This is Spinal Tap on the night it opened in New York City. I'm also pretty sure I contributed to one of the most iconic moments in the film. Although I have no proof, but here's the story.

In the late 1970s and early '80s I played a Les Paul, and along the way I lost one of the volume knobs. So I went to Manny's Music on 48th Street to get a replacement. The guy at the counter showed me two bins and said, "We have these, and these."

"What's the difference?" I asked.

He held up a knob and said -- these were his exact words -- "These go to 11." The knob had the extra digit on it.

In those days there wasn't a huge selection of aftermarket parts for guitars, so this was unusual.

"So..," I replied, and we finished the sentence together, "it's one louder."

I ended up buying four and replacing all the knobs on my guitar. For years I would show it to other guitar players at gigs and everyone had a good laugh. When I saw the movie and Nigel said his guitars were "one louder," I almost fell off my seat.

Manny's was known for its celebrity clientele, and to this day I am convinced that one of the guys in the band happened to be standing behind me in line that day, overheard the exchange, and filed it away.

TIST to Have Theatrical Release in Japan

This is Spinal Tap had its theatrical release in Japan on June 16, 2018, at the Shinjuku Musashinokan movie theater in Tokyo. The promoters have created a website at spinaltap.jp.

What They Left Out of the Documentary

In an episode of his YouTube series, "Rough Cuts," Dana Henson dissects the 4.5-hour work cut of Marty DiBergi's documentary about the band.

Sadly, due to illness, The Spinal Taps tribute band, based in Nottingham, stopped touring in 2015. But their Facebook page lives on, and, like Tap, they may well be back.

Washington OKs GOES211 License Plate; Not About Penis

Back in 2007, the Sacramento Bee reported that the California DMV was attempting to recall the vanity license plate GO 2 11 that attorney Keith Wagner had on his car, after the agency received a complaint that the message can be read as "Go to hell." Here is the spirited response by Wagner. Five years later, in October 2012, the Washington DMV showed more sense when the agency rejected a complaint about a plate on Tony Cava's 1989 BMW that reads GOES211. According to the Seattle Times, the complainant asked the DMV to recall the plate because it referred to the fact the driver's penis "grows to 11 inches in length." But Cava after explained it was a reference to his favorite movie, the DMV ruled the complaint was "pardon the pun, a stretch."

Other Classic Instant Reviews

In a list of "10 succinct pop critiques" from his book 10 Ways to Recycle a Corpse (and 100 Other Dreadfully Distasteful Lists), Karl Shaw somehow overlooks "Shit sandwich," the infamous review of Shark Sandwich cited by Marty DiBergi in TIST. But he does share other gems, such as "Nah," a review in New Musical Express of the 1996 album Yeah! by Def Leppard; "Let's not," a review of Let's Groove by Earth, Wind & Fire that appeared in Smash Hits in 1981; "Don't think I wasn't tempted," a 1982 review in Smash Hits of Run to the Hills by Iron Maiden; "SHT," the conclusion in Creem of the supergroup GTR's album of the same name, in 1986; and "Yes, mine," the summary in 1979 by Sounds magazine of Wasting Time by Strangeways.

Blast from the Past

In 2007 Marty DiBergi attempted to reunite Tap for Live Earth, a concert designed to raise money to fight global warming. He was successful, if you want to call it that.

Is TIST the Funniest Film Ever?

Not sure how you can include a rockumentary on a list of comedies but Time Out London has given This is Spinal Tap the number one spot of its list of 100 best. In fact, says its reviewer, "this is one of the best films of all time." But who calls them "The Tap"?

Now Available: Spinal Tap Rarities

Years ago I put together a compilation of rarities on cassette tape. I have ripped the master and posted it as side one (42MB) and side two (43MB) along with a PDF of the cassette insert (disregard the phone numbers). I also have posted an MP3 of Tap's April 5, 1984 performance at the Music Machine in Los Angeles.

Twisted Sister Guitarist Covers "Big Bottom"

Twisted Sister guitarist Eddie Ojeda and his Band of Steel have contributed a cover of "Big Bottom" to Whole Lotta Love: All-Star Salute To Fat Chicks. (You can hear a sample at MySpace.) "When I was first asked if I wanted to cover 'Big Bottom,' I thought it was a joke," Ojeda said in a statement. "I mean, why would you ask a guitarist to play on a song with no guitars? In the end, I did find a way of adding my own personal touch to the song, while also being respectful to the bass-heavy sound of the original." Added bassist Chris McCarvill: "It wasn't hard playing all three bass parts, but it was hard playing them all at the same time."

Porn Company Plans XXX Version of This is Spinal Tap

Hoping to cash in on what Newsweek has called porn's new "gold mine" of movie and television parodies, New Sensations announced plans in 2010 to make an adult film called This is Spinal Tap: A XXX Parody. It was to be directed by Lee Roy Myers, who has previously done explicit parodies of The Big Lebowski and Reno 911, but he has left New Sensations so the status of the project is uncertain. But really, is nothing sacred? With or without sex scenes, the concept of a parody of TIST seems redundant.

Spinal Tap Returns. Seriously.

No, they are not dead ... yet. The official website was relauched and the band released a new album, Back from the Dead (also available at iTunes and on 11-inch vinyl). Download a free track, Saucy Jack or any of their singles at Amazon MP3. The Amazon digital version of the new album includes a bonus track, (Listen to the) Flower People (2009). The band also discusses their music on its official YouTube channel.

This is Spinal Tap Released on Blu-ray DVD

"This is Spinal Tap" has been released on Blu-ray; you can order a copy at Amazon. Note that this DVD will only play on Blu-ray players; it won't work on a standard DVD player. This is Spinal Tap is also available for download at iTunes.

Spinal Tap Art Show at the Phone Booth Gallery

After more than a year of planning, the Phone Booth Gallery in southern California mounted an online art show devoted to Spinal Tap with various artists interpreting their favorite aspects of one of England's loudest bands. At right is "What Size Do You Wear, Sir?" by Arlene Reyes, a 10" by 8" acrylic on wood. Other works included "Airport Security" by Lil Tuffy, "Exact Inner Structure" by Shannon Freshwater, "The Literal Truth Revealed" by Mark Michelon, "Loved and Lost" by Chester Burnett, "Smell the Glove" by Handiedan, "Nothing Was Left, Well..." by Ryan Milner, "Stonehenge Was Nearly Trampled by a Dwarf!" by Illworx, "Eleven" by Brian Banks and "Jim" by Garry Booth. To browse, click here.

New Analysis of Spinal Tap Released

Ethan De Seife, a visiting professor of film at Gettsyburg College whose writings on Tap first appeared on this site, has written what is without a doubt the best critical analysis of the film for a volume of Wallflower Press's Cultographies series. De Seife recounts the production, promotion and initial reception to the film and the audience and critical reaction before getting to the meat of the matter, which is his analysis of the film and its secrets. This slim volume is a must-have for any serious Taphead. You can buy it at Amazon.

U2 Becomes Trapped Inside Giant Pod

From Q Magazine (February 2007): " 'Somebody had to out-Spinal Tap Spinal Tap, and I think we did.' So said Edge about Popmart mirrorball lemon: an impressive 40-foot fiberglass shell covered with inch-thick reflective tiles from which the band were supposed to emerge for every encore. Except in Oslo on 6 August 1997, when in true Tap fashion the lemon failed to open, trapping them inside. Today it lies dismantled in a Dutch warehouse since, claims Edge, it failed to sell when auctioned on eBay."

The Keyboardist's Curse

From The Week (16 June 2006): "When Vince Welnick was invited in 1990 to become the Grateful Dead's keyboard player, the position already had a reputation as the most dangerous job in rock n' roll. Three of the band's previous keyboardists had died in tragic circumstances—alcoholism, a car crash and a drug overdose. After being told about the "curse," Welnick said, "I am aware that I could die doing this job, but I was dying of boredom before the job came up." Welnick apparently killed himself, "the fourth and last in a grim series."

Fine Line Between Clever and ... History

From Nice Guys Finish Seventh, page 45: "During a conversation with one of his ambassadors following the Russian debacle of 1812, Napoleon kept repeating, 'From the sublime to the ridiculous there is but one step.' After this ambassador reported their conversation in a book, the mot was attributed to Bonaparte. It still is. But this thought was not original to him. In Age of Reason (1795), Thomas Paine wrote, 'One step above the sublime makes the ridiculous, and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again.' " And, finally, as Albert Einstein once said, "The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."

Nearly None More Black

In 2003 the National Physical Laboratory in the U.K. went beyond black with a new NPL Super Black that reflected only about .16 of the light shined on it. However, in 2008 scientists at Rice announced they had broken that record with a carpet of carbon nanotubes that reflect only 0.045 percent of light, or three times darker than NPL Super Black. (By comparison, black paint has a reflectance of 5 to 10 percent.) However, neither of these findings eliminates the possibility that a substance is out there that is none more black.

Woman Chokes on Someone Else's Vomit

On 7 March 2002, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix in Saskatchewan, Canada, citing witnesses inside the Pine Grove Correctional Centre, reported that some female ex-heroin addicts so desperately crave methadone that they routinely consume the fresh vomit of fellow inmates currently on methadone treatment because enough is still present in the regurgitation. The newspaper uncovered the practice while investigating the death of an inmate. Said a source, "The whole building knows (that the inmate choked on vomit). That's how she died." —from News of the Weird, compiled by Chuck Shepherd

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