Drummer Ric Parnell – known for playing Mick Shrimpton in the 1984 film, This Is Spinal Tap – has died. He was 70 years old.
Parnell, an English drummer, was a member of the 1970s rock band Atomic Rooster from 1971–1974. Later, he recorded with Italian prog rock band Nova, former Yes singer Jon Anderson, and Deniz Tek, a founding member of Radio Birdman. In 1982, Parnell played drums on the debut album by pop artist Toni Basil, including on the international mega hit ‘Mickey’.
Parnell is most widely recognised for playing the character Mick Shrimpton in the 1984 mockumentary film, This Is Spinal Tap. Parnell and keyboardist David Kaff (Viv Savage) appear alongside actors and writers Christopher Guest (Nigel Tufnel), Harry Shearer (Derek Smalls) and Michael McKean (David St. Hubbins).
The film’s director, Rob Reiner, plays the role of Marty Di Bergi, a documentary filmmaker who follows the English hard rock group Spinal Tap on their 1982 United States concert tour. Parnell’s character dies of spontaneous combustion, continuing the trend of Spinal Tap drummers dying in freak accidents.
Despite this, Parnell continued to play with Spinal Tap in the years after the film. On albums such as 1992’s Break Like the Wind, he assumed the role of Mick Shrimpton’s twin brother, Ric Shrimpton.
More recently, Parnell hosted the radio show, Spontaneous Combustion, in his adopted home of Missoula, Montana. A Gofundme has been set up to pay for Parnell’s funeral costs.