Trivia & Fun Facts About THIS IS SPINAL TAP
There was supposedly a scene explaining the cold sores we see on the band's mouth, the result of each of them having slept with the promiscuous female lead singer of an opening act band they hire. The band, and the herpes explanation, was cut from the final release.
According to Rob Reiner, his character's name, Marty DiBergi, is a take-off on bits of the names of several directors: Martin Scorsese, Brian DiPalma, Steven Spielberg, and either Fellini or Antonioni.
Reiner, Guest, Shearer, and McKean tried to get the entire cast's names credited as writers since the dialogue was improvised by all of them. The Writers Guild voted unanimously to allow only their four names as credited writers.
This Is Spinal Tap was Rob Reiner's first feature film directing credit in his career. He has gone on to make a number of hit movies, including Stand by Me (1986), When Harry Met Sally (1989), and A Few Good Men (1992), which was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award. He is the son of comedy legend Carl Reiner and the ex-husband of actor-director Penny Marshall.
Although people rarely realize it now, the "correct" spelling of the band's name contains an entirely non-functional umlaut over the "n" of Spinal. An umlaut serves no purpose over a consonant, but its use ties back to the Teutonic pretensions of many heavy metal bands.
Christopher Guest created his character Nigel Tufnel before the genesis of Spinal Tap. He used the name as guitarist on Michael McKean's album "Lenny and the Squigtones" and again in a sketch on the comedy program The TV Show in 1978.
Some real-life musicians appear in This Is Spinal Tap. Danny Kortchmar (Ronnie Pudding) is a long-time session guitarist who has played with Carole King, James Taylor, Warren Zevon, Harry Nilsson, and others and produced recordings for Neil Young, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, and the Spin Doctors. Russ Kunkel (doomed drummer Eric "Stumpy Joe" Childs) is also a well-known session musician. A drummer and producer, Kunkel has worked with the Bee Gees, Herb Alpert, Tracy Chapman, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Steve Winwood, and many others. Kunkel and Kortchmar, along with bassist Leland Sklar and keyboardist Craig Doerge, worked together on so many studio recordings for famous musicians they became known as The Section. Kortchmar once played with a band called Jo Mama. There is a character in the movie called Joe "Mama" Besser. Joe Besser was the comic actor who was briefly a member of the Three Stooges in the late 1950s.
According to one story, Christopher Guest's future wife Jamie Lee Curtis saw a photo of him as Nigel of Spinal Tap on the cover of Rolling Stone and was so intrigued she gave her phone number to Guest's agent.
Christopher Guest was born in New York City, but his father was a British peer. Upon the father's death, Guest became the fifth Baron Haden-Guest of Saling, Essex. He was, however, deemed ineligible to serve in the British House of Lords, and his children with Jamie Lee Curtis are not in line for the title because they are adopted.
Guest's British roots gave him a deep connection with that country's humor, which he has described as "silliness framed in intelligence." His longtime favorite film comedian is Peter Sellers.
Tony Hendra (Ian Faith, the band's manager) said in his autobiography that he attempted suicide shortly before making this movie and that the great time he had filming it brought him out of his depression. Hendra was the founding editor of the influential humor magazine National Lampoon.
Guest, McKean, and Shearer have all been cast members on Saturday Night Live, as have Billy Crystal and Dana Carvey, who appear as mime waiters in the record company party scene. Shearer was also a writer on the series earlier in its run.
"We do love that, the musicians who have said, 'Man, I can't watch Spinal Tap, it's too much like my life.' That's the highest compliment of all. It beats all the Oscar® nominations we never got." - Harry Shearer
Selected Song Lyrics from Spinal Tap Songs
Stonehenge where a man's a man and the children dance to the pipes of pan.
Big bottom, big bottom/Talk about mud flaps, my girl's got 'em/Big bottom drive me out of my mind/How can I leave this behind?
Spinal Tap Album names:
Intravenus de Milo, The Gospel According to Spinal Tap, Shark Sandwich, Smell the Glove
Memorable Quotes from THIS IS SPINAL TAP
MARTY DIBERGI (Rob Reiner): They've earned a distinguished place in rock history as one of England's loudest bands.
MARTY: I wanted to capture the sights, the sounds, the smells of a hard-working rock band on the road.
NIGEL TUFNEL (Christopher Guest): It's very special. If you can see, the numbers go up to 11. Right across the board, 11, 11, 11, 11.
MARTY: Most amps go up to 10.
MARTY: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
NIGEL: Well, it's one louder, isn't it?
NIGEL: There's a fine line between stupid and clever.
DAVID ST. HUBBINS (Michael McKean): Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year. It's just not really widely reported.
MARTY: David St. Hubbins. I must admit I've never heard anybody with that name.
DAVID: It's an unusual name, well, he was an unusual saint, he's not a very well known saint.
MARTY: Oh, there actually is, uh... there was a Saint Hubbins?
DAVID: That's right, yes.
MARTY: What was he the saint of?
DAVID: He was the patron saint of quality footwear.
NIGEL (on what he would do if he weren't a rock star): Well, I suppose I could, uh, work in a shop of some kind, or, or do, uh, freelance, uh, selling of some sort of, uh, product. You know.
MARTY: A salesman?
NIGEL: A salesman, like maybe in a, uh, haberdasher, or maybe like a, uh, um, a chapeau shop or something. You know, like, "Would you...what size do you wear, sir?" And then you answer me.
MARTY: Uh, seven and a quarter.
NIGEL: "I think we have that." See, something like that I could do.
MARTY: Yeah. You think you'd be happy doing something like--
NIGEL: "No; we're all out. Do you wear black?" See, that sort of thing I think I could probably...muster up.
MARTY: Do you think you'd be happy doing that?
NIGEL: Well, I don't know. Wh-wh-what're the hours?
IAN FAITH (Tony Hendra): Certainly, in the topsy-turvy world of heavy rock, having a good solid piece of wood in your hand is often useful.
MARTY (referring to the piece Nigel is playing on piano): It's very pretty.
NIGEL: Yeah, I've been fooling about with it for a few months now. It's very delicate.
MARTY: It's a bit of a departure from the kind of thing you normally play.
NIGEL: Yeah well, it's part of a trilogy, really, a musical trilogy I'm doing in D minor which I always find is really the saddest of all keys, really. I don't know why but it makes people weep instantly.
MARTY: It's very pretty.
NIGEL: You know, just simple lines intertwining, you know, very much like...I'm really influenced by Mozart and Bach, and it's sort of in between those, really. It's like a Mach piece, really. It's sort of--
MARTY: What do you call this?
NIGEL: Well, this piece is called "Lick My Love Pump".
ARTIE FUFKIN (Paul Shaffer): Do me a favor. Just kick my ass, okay? Kick this ass for a man, that's all. Kick my ass. Enjoy. Come on. I'm not asking, I'm telling with this. Kick my ass.
DEREK SMALLS (Harry Shearer): We're lucky.
DEREK: I mean, people should be envying us, you know.
DAVID: I envy us.
DAVID: I do.
DEREK: Me too.
NIGEL: In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history, lived an ancient race of people. The Druids. No one knows who they were or what they were doing. But their legacy remains hewn into the living rock of Stonehenge.
DAVID: I do not for one think that the band was down. I think the problem may have been that there was a Stonehenge monument on stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf, all right? That tended to understate the hugeness of the object.
IAN: I really think you're making much too big a thing out of it.
DEREK: Making a big thing out of it might have been a good idea.
AIR FORCE OFFICER (Fred Willard): May I start by saying how thrilled we are to have you here. We are such fans of your music and all of your records. I'm not speaking of yours personally, but the whole genre of the rock and roll.
DAVID (asked by a reporter if this is the end of Spinal Tap): Well, I don't really think that the end can be assessed as of itself as being the end because what does the end feel like? It's like saying when you try to extrapolate the end of the universe, you say, if the universe is indeed infinite, then how...what does that mean? How far is all the way, and then if it stops, what's stopping it, and what's behind what's stopping it? So, what's the end, you know, is my question to you.
Compiled by Rob Nixon