Ric Parnell, Spinal Tap Drummer a.k.a. ‘Mick Shrimpton,’ Dead at 70

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)

Ric Parnell, the drummer of the music group Spinal Tap who goes by Mick Shrimpton, has died at the age of 70.

Harry Shearer of Spinal Tap took to Twitter over the weekend to announce the news about Ric Parnell’s passing. “Ric Parnell, our drummer in This is Spinal Tap, passed away today. No one ever rocked harder.”

According to Variety, the cause of death of Spinal Tap’s Parnell has not been revealed at the time. The music group is fronted by actor-musicians Michael McKean who plays David St. Hubbins; Christopher Guest who portrays Nigel Tunnel; and Shearer who plays Derek Smalls. The group is described as a cross the line between fiction and reality. The media outlet notes that Spinal Tap did a road test to test out their concept following the making of “This Is Spinal Tap.”

It is noted that the Spinal Tap’s drummers, like Parnell, are the running punchline throughout “This Is Spinal Tap.” This is due to the group’s previous drummers dying, one from spontaneous combustion. While Parnell is seen throughout the film, in the end, he combusts. He also performed on the soundtrack album. 

Following “This Is Spinal Tap,” the music group continued to find success. They even performed on “Saturday Night Live” in 1984. They also teamed up for the album, “Break Like the Wind” and toured in the early 1990s, with another tour in 2001. 

While his character did die in “This Is Spinal Tap,” Ric Parnell continued to perform in the group as Mick’s brother, Ric Shrimpton.

Like Other Spinal Tap Bandmates, Ric Parnell Was a Genuine Musician 

Variety also reported that like the other Spinal Tap bandmates, Parnell was a genuine musician and it wasn’t just acting for him. His father was a jazz drummer and bandleader, Jack Parnell. In the early 1970s, Parnell played with various bands. This includes Atomic Rooster and Horse. He then played for three Italian groups and even reportedly turned down offers to join Whitesnake and Journey. Along with Spinal Tap, Parnell performed on Toni Basil’s 1982 “Mickey.” 

Prior to his passing, Ric Parnell was living in Missoula, Montana. He was co-hosting the weekly “Spontaneous Combustion” radio show. 

Along with the announcement from Shearer, a GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help cover Ric Parnell’s funeral costs. The description reads, “Ric Parnell, a great musician and an even better friend, has embarked on the journey to the other side. Ric doesn’t have the means to cover his end-of-life expenses, including rent, cremation, storage space, and memorial services (TBD).

The GoFundMe organizer, McKenzie Sweeney, also revealed that there has been an outpouring of care for Ric and many have asked how they can help at this time. “If you are able to contribute even just a few dollars. This is a tangible way to help Ric at the end of his life.”

So far, the campaign has raised over $6,000.