Famous for playing exploding drummer Mick Shrimpton in This Is Spinal Tap, Ric Parnell has died at age 70

    1 of 3 2 of 3

       Spinal Tap drummer Ric Parnell has died at the age of 70. No cause of death has been announced at the moment. So please, no matter how much you idolized Mick Shrimpton, don’t begin speculating about gardening accidents, spontaneous combustion, or choking on vomit (the owner of which being debatable).

      Parnell played Shrimpton in the classic 1984 mock documentary This Is Spinal Tap. One of the big jokes in the movie, which starred Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, and Christopher Guest, was the band’s endless succession of drummers, all of them dying in freak accidents. Keeping the tradition alive, Shrimpton spontaneously combusted mid-performance at the end of the movie.

      Shearer broke the news of Parnell’s death on Twitter.

      In real life, Parnell was born into a family headed by London jazz-great Jack Parnell. After picking up the sticks as a teen, he played with U.K. ’70s prog band Atomic Rooster as well as hard-rockers Horse and jazz-fusion unit Nova. All of those bands made him a natural for Spinal Tap.

      Recalling one of his initial interviews for the role of Shrimpton, Parnell once said, “The first question they asked was, ‘What do you think about a movie that’s going to tear your career apart?’ I said, ‘You should have made this movie about 10 years ago.’ They then asked me what other bands I’d been in, and I said, ‘Well, I was in a band called Atomic Rooster.’ They looked at each other and said, ‘Yep, that’s it, you’re our man.’ ”

      In addition to appearing in This Is Spinal Tap, Parnell played on the group’s two studio albums (both the eponymous movie soundtrack and 1992’s Break Like the Wind), as well as filling the drummer’s seat for live shows. (Given that he exploded in the movie, the party line was that he wasn’t Mick Shrimpton, but instead his twin brother Ric Shrimpton).

      In recent years Parnell lived in Missoula, Montana, where he was both an avid golfer and the host of a nighttime radio show called Spontaneous Combustion.

      Here’s how his fellow musicians, friends, and fans are remembering the drummer on Twitter.