Ric Parnell, the English musician best known for playing drummer Mick Shrimpton in It’s Spinal Tapdied at the age of 70.
The rocker bounced around in bands early in his career, before joining progressive rock band Atomic Rooster in 1970. He stayed with the band until 1974, playing on studio albums. made in england and Nice and fat. During its stint, the band scored two UK hits, “Tomorrow Night” (1970) and “Devil’s Answer” (1971), which peaked at No. 11 and No. 4 respectively.
Following his stint with Atomic Rooster, Parnell played with Italian rock band Tritons, pop-rock band Stars and jazz fusion band Nova. From there he found success as a session drummer, playing material by Michael Des Barres and Yes frontman Jon Anderson, as well as Toni Basil’s 1981 album. Word of mouth. It’s Parnell’s drum work you heard on Basil’s classic hit “Mickey.”
Parnell claimed to have turned down offers to join Journey and Whitesnake. However, his biggest breakthrough came in 1984 when he scored a role in the rock mockumentary It’s Spinal Tap.
Parnell grabbed screen time as Mick Shrimpton, the drummer for Spinal Tap for the majority of the film. As shown in the film, the band had seen a lot of turnover behind the kit, as their drummers continually died under strange circumstances. Yet Shrimpton sought to reverse this trend.
“When I joined, you know, they were like – they kind of pulled me aside and said, ‘Well, Mick. It’s, you know, it’s like that…'” Parnell (as Shrimpton) recalls in a memorable scene. But that can’t always happen to everyone, can it? ”
Despite believing in the “law of averages” being on his side, Shrimpton exploded onto the stage during Spinal Tap’s 1982 Japanese tour.
Watch Ric Parnell as Mick Shrimpton in “This is Spinal Tap”‘
Parnell performed on the film’s soundtrack and would remain involved with the band as it transitioned from fictional to real. When Spinal Tap staged a reunion tour in 1992, Parnell was behind the kit, performing as Ric Shrimpton, twin brother of his character Mick, who died in the film. Spinal Tap’s second album, Break like the windwas also released around this time, with Parnell again delivering drums and percussion.
In his later years, Parnell moved to Missoula, Mont. where he hosted a weekly radio show. A GoFundMe has been set up to help cover the drummer’s funeral expenses.
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