In Memoriam: Ric Parnell (1951 – 2022)

Richard “Ric” J. Parnell (August 13, 1951 – May 5, 2022) was an English rock drummer. Notable for his work in the band Atomic Rooster, he is probably best known for his role as the ill-fated drummer Mick Shrimpton in the film This Is Spinal Tap.

The group — fronted by actor-musicians Michael McKean (as David St. Hubbins), Christopher Guest (as Nigel Tufnel) and Shearer (as Derek Smalls) — crossed the line between fiction and reality from their inception: the band literally road-tested tested their concept shortly after making the film, opening shows for psychedelic sludge-rockers Iron Butterfly, and no one in the audience was for the wiser.

Spinal Tap’s drummers are a running punchline in the film — all of the group’s previous drummers had died, one from spontaneous combustion — and although Parnell appears throughout the film, he too spontaneously combusts at the end. He performed on the soundtrack album that accompanied the film as well as a follow-up album.

Parnell passed away May 1, 2022 and cause of death was not disclosed.