Ric Parnell, Drummer Who Played Mick Shrimpton in ‘This Is Spinal Tap,’ Has Died at 70
English drummer Ric Parnell, who was best known for his role as Mick Shrimpton in the This Is Spinal Tap movie, has died at the age of 70.
Parnell was an accomplished musician who played in a number of bands before landing the role as Shrimpton, who, in the film, died of spontaneous combustion and was one of several of the band's drummers who met odd fates. In reality, he toured with Spinal Tap as Shrimpton's "twin brother" Ric Shrimpton and played on their first two albums, The Is Spinal Tap (1984) and Break Like the Wind (1992).
Prior to finding fame with the movie's enduring success, Parnell was a fixture of the British rock scene and was featured on the self-titled 1970 album by heavy psych rock outfit Horse and the final two albums by hard rockers Atomic Rooster (before the group reunited in 1980). From there, he bounced between a handful of projects (Tritons, Ibis, Stars, Nova, Michael Des Barres, Dalbello, Toni Basil and others) and was ultimately selected as the featured drummer in This Is Spinal Tap, largely due to the fact that one of his previous groups was humorously named Atomic Rooster.
Parnell claims to have once received an invitation from singer Joe Perry to join Journey, but declined and instead kept his focus on his band Zoo Drive, who most notably played on new wave artist Toni Basil's 1981 Word of Mouth album.
Later in life, the drummer was featured on released by The Deviants, Deniz Tek, Donovan's Brain, Cloud Over Jupiter, The Dukes of 1987, Telestrion and PHILIDOR, the latter of which released a record in 2019. Parnell also co-hosted a radio program called "Spontaneous Combustion" onKDTR Trail 103.3FM, a commercial radio station that serves the Missoula, Montana area.
On Facebook, garage rocker Deniz Tek paid tribute to his late bandmate and friend.
"Ric Parnell died early this morning. From day one, meeting him, I found him to be engaging, warm, and delightfully funny. We hit it off as pals immediately. He had a cheerful spirit that made you feel good, just being around him," wrote Tek, who continued, "Ric's amazing history in the music world is well known. I had the great good fortune to work with Ric on three albums. Studio time was casual, fun, and scattered with stories and humor. Ric never actually prepared for a session, but would come up with the beat and the arrangement on the spot. He would say, 'How does this next song go?' I'd play it to him on a guitar, and he'd think about it for a minute. Then he would say 'Right! Got something.' Then he would nail it in one or two takes, and it was as perfect as it gets. Ric was one of a kind. He lives on in his music, and in our hearts."
A GoFundMe has also been established to help Parnell's family with "end-of-life expenses, including rent, cremation, storage space and memorial services."
Loudwire extends our condolences to the Parnell family and all who knew Ric. Rest in peace.