Ric Parnell death: Spinal Tap drummer who played Mick Shrimpton dies aged 70

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Ric ‘RJ’ Parnell played drummer Mick Shrimpton in the cult comedy classic  (YouTube)
Ric ‘RJ’ Parnell played drummer Mick Shrimpton in the cult comedy classic (YouTube)

Ric Parnell, who played Mick Shrimpton, drummer of the fictional band Spinal Tap, has died aged 70.

The actor-musician’s death was announced by Harry Shearer, co-writer, co-creator and co-star of the 1984 mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap.

A cause of death is yet to be revealed.

Parnell – also known as RJ – was joined in the Spinal Tap group by actor-musicians Michael McKean (as David St Hubbins), Christopher Guest (as Nigel Tufnel), and Shearer (as Derek Smalls).

The drummers of the group featured in a long-running joke in the film. All of the band’s previous drummers had died, with Parnell also dying at the end of the film due to spontaneous combustion.

Parnell also performed on the soundtrack for This Is Spinal Tap.

The 1984 mockumentary offered a behind-the-scenes look at a heavy metal band during a demoralising US tour.

The band went on to perform on Saturday Night Live, and later reunited for the 1992 album Break Like the Wind.

Spinal Tap (Getty)
Spinal Tap (Getty)

They toured in the early Nineties, and again in 2001. Given that Parnell’s character Mick had died in the original film, the actor-musician performed with the band as Mick’s brother, Ric Shrimpton.

The London-born musician was born to jazz drummer and bandleader Jack Parnell and went on to play in bands such as Atomic Rooster and Horse during the early Seventies.

He played in three Italian bands, and reportedly turned down offers to join the Eighties bands Journey and Whitesnake.

Recently, Parnell lived in Missoula, Montana. He was the co-host of a weekly radio show jokingly titled Spontaneous Combustion.

A GoFundMe page has been founded to help cover the late star’s funeral costs.

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