Still Going to 11: ‘Spinal Tap’ Turns 30!
When the film "This is Spinal Tap" was released in March 1984, the public was initially unsure what to make of it. Like Orson Welles's radio drama "War of the Worlds," the movie was acted, produced, and presented so well that the project seemed like it could have been an actual documentary and not the spoof of a clueless hard rock band who stumbles from one hilarious mishap to the next.
Starring director Rob Reiner as an enterprising documentarian, Michael McKean as vocalist David St. Hubbins, Christopher Guest as guitarist Nigel Tufnel, and Harry Shearer as bassist Derek Smalls (all of whom shared writing credits), "This is Spinal Tap" seemed too absurd to be real, yet so in stride with the lunacy of a traveling rock band that it couldn't possibly be made up. Many of the lines in the film were ad-libbed, which added to the realistic feel, and the actors went along with whatever came along like an expert theater improve troupe, the results being part Monty Python, part "Don't Look Back."
Reiner filmed over 20 hours of footage then masterfully edited together the best 82 minutes. While the public response to the theatrical release was disappointing, when it was released on video "This is Spinal Tap" quickly blossomed into one of the most popular and enduring cult films. And countless musicians, including Rob Halford, Glenn Danzig, and Rob Zombie, have praised the accuracy of some of the movie's funniest scenes.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of a legendary rock 'n' roll mockumentary, Yahoo Music dug up an interview with dim but lovable David St. Hubbins:
YAHOO: Are you feeling good in the aftermath of the anniversary of "This is Spinal Tap"?
HUBBINS: I'm all right. I just twisted my ankle a bit. I was out working at the farm. We call it the farm. It's not really a farm, it's like half an acre out in Pomona here, and I was out there with the dog and sheep and I twisted my ankle, but I'm fine now.
Speaking of twisting an ankle, that reminds me of the show business phrase "break a leg," which I've never understood.
Someone explained it to me once. If you break a leg, you're not going to have to go out there and risk making a fool of yourself, which is of course much worse than breaking any limb, although as one who's done it for a living…you know, playing in a rock 'n' roll band. We are the fools of the universe.