Billy Sheehan Shares His Real-Life ‘Spinal Tap’ Moment
Mix together some Mediterranean spirits, some canned goods, and an arena full of angry Athenians, and what do you have? Bassist Billy Sheehan's real-life Spinal Tap moment.
Sheehan shared his story in this exclusive interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, explaining that it all started when he agreed to join UFO for their 1983 European tour after Pete Way left the lineup following 1982's Mechanix album. "We did that tour, and a lot of things happened — so much so that when I got home and first saw the movie Spinal Tap after that tour, it was not funny at all. I didn't think it was funny a bit — I was wondering why I was even sitting in the theater watching it, when I had just lived that completely on the entire tour."
One particularly painful memory stems from the band's stop in Athens, where the promoter gifted the group with a massive amount of Metaxa, a liqueur consisting of brandy blended with wine and assorted flavorings, in a huge bottle with a spigot at the bottom. "About halfway through the day, we're walking down the hotel hallway, and it's outside [singer Phil Mogg's] room, empty," chuckled Sheehan. "He'd already emptied the whole bottle of Metaxa, so we knew it was going to be a particularly good show."
Sure enough, when the band took the stage, Mogg was thoroughly inebriated, and after a few songs of slurred vocals, the audience started to get unruly — even tossing a lit M-80 onstage at one point. Emboldened by the Metaxa, Mogg walked over to Sheehan with a plan: "Phil comes back to me and says, 'Billy, I think if we move to the front of the stage, we can get them.' I said, 'Okay.' So I went up to the front of the stage and — pow! — something hit me in the head so hard, I thought an M-80 blew off in my face."
As it turned out, Sheehan hadn't actually been pelted with an explosive — just a heavy can fashioned into a projectile weapon, which struck him on the scalp and left him bleeding down the side of his face. "Thank you, Phil, for bringing me up to the front of the stage so we could 'get them,'" smirked Sheehan. "And that was one of about 40 stories like that."
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