Guide to British Music of the 1960s

Spinal Tap

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Guitar//vocals- David St Hubbins, guitar/vocals- Nigel Tuffnel, bass- Derek Smalls

Spinal Tap have left an enduring legacy as one of England's loudest bands. While they certainly enjoyed a long career than many, their latter years were spent "milking it" in Europe. Tap was formed in London in the early sixties by childhood friends St Hubbins and Tuffnel. They started trying to write their own songs, an early effort All The Way Home was highlighted in This is Spinal Tap. As The Originals they started to ply their trade but were forced to adopt a new name, The New Originals, as there was already a band called the Originals in the East End. Although The Originals later changed their name, Tuffnel and St Hubbins decided not to revert to The Originals. At this point they became The Thamesmen, recruiting drummer John "Stumpy" Pepys and bass player Ronnie Pudding. The Thamesmen had a couple of minor singles in Gimme Some Money and Cups and Cakes. A rare piece of footage of The Thamesmen playing Gimme Some Money on the TV show Pop Look Listen still exists. This was recorded when the band was riding low in the charts. However, around this time, Pepys died in a bizarre gardening accident and was replaced by Eric "Stumpy Joe" Childs. (Note that some sources place Pepys' death as 1969 but Childs is clearly playing on surviving footage from the US Jamboree programme when Tap was promoting Flower Children

By this time, Ronnie Pudding had been replaced by Derek Smalls and Dennie Upham joined on keyboards. This line-up became the now legendary Spinal Tap. A 1967 single Spinal Tap sings "Listen to the Flower People" and other favourites was a major UK hit. The band toured the world and elsewhere but failed to capitalise on this success with the first album We are the Flower People. Ross Maclochness replaced Upham for the following album Matchstick Men and the live LP Silent But Deadly. This line-up released a number of unconvincing albums during the 1970s before Childs choked to death on vomit and was replaced by Peter James Bond. A few minor releases followed and, while they remained popular, their audience was becoming more selective. In 1982 the band was famously caught by the film cameras of Martin DiBergi with the film later released as This is Spinal Tap. The band had a surprise hit in Japan and toured with Joe "Mama" Bessemer on drums replacing the combusted Mick Shrimpton. Various reunions have taken place over the years although Viv Savage and manager Ian Faith have passed away. The core of Tuffnel, St Hubbins and Smalls have milked it where they can but are currently residing in the "where are they now?" file.

  • The Thamesmen
  • The New Originals

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