Spinal Tap’s Derek Smalls on Spinal Tap’s Spinal Tap Moment
Bassist Derek Smalls – played by Harry Shearer – recalled the experience in a new interview with The Guardian, set around the release of Smalls’ new single, “Must Crush Barbie,” which you can hear below.
Asked if the Stonehenge set debacle – as seen in the 1984 movie This Is Spinal Tap – was his most embarrassing onstage experience, Shearer (in character as Smalls) replied, “Nothing ever as embarrassing as when we were part of the Freddie Mercury tribute. Somebody backstage fucked with our amps, and when we’re introduced and start ‘The Majesty of Rock,’ Nigel [Tufnel] hits the opening power chord, and there’s … silence. We’re out there in front of thousands at Wembley and who knows how many more via telly, and nobody on the crew moves a muscle because they think it’s our thing. Felt like hours out there.”
The video below shows frontman David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) struggling to maintain the mood during the tech problem. The band’s recent single “The Majesty of Rock,” which runs four minutes, is the only song they have time to perform during their eight minutes onstage.
Watch Spinal Tap Struggle at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
Smalls was also asked if he had any tips for emerging from a cocoon, having become trapped within one in the movie: “Make sure you have the key.” Asked about a dream collaboration, he said, “I’d like to collaborate with Mozart. I think we’d have a lot to share. I know chords he’s never used.”
‘The Simpsons’ Almost Killed Spinal Tap
In another tongue-in-cheek reference, when asked about Spinal Tap appearing on The Simpsons, Shearer - who is a longtime cast member – responded: “The writers or producers almost got us killed on that episode. I thought to myself, ‘They wouldn’t do that to the Stones!’ We met them all at the session and, since we weren’t on camera, I suggested we all do the scenes in the nude. They didn’t think that was funny, so I guess they’ve been doing comedy for too long.”
He also reflected upon the way heavy music has risen and fallen in popularity over the years. "Rock music started out as oversimplified ditties," he noted. "Then it got all serious in the ‘70s, with rock operettas and such. The audience got confused and started looking for another source of oversimplified ditties. It’s a natural cycle, like the seasons."