Spinal Tap are a fictional heavy metal group who first appeared in the “rockumentary” This is Spinal Tap in 1984. The film marked the directorial debut of Rob Reiner and is today considered a comedy classic. The satire of heavy metal starred Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer, along with Reiner who played a documentary filmmaker. The film featured a number of memorable songs including “Big Bottom”, “Hell Hole”, and “Sex Farm”.  When the film was released it received crtical acclaim, though was not a box office hit. It has since become a cult classic and the endearing love of the fictional group has resulted in a number of reunions over the years. The film introduced many catch-phrases, including “Going to 11″.

A key song from the film was “Stonehenge”, where a mix-up of measurements on a sketch for set-piece resulted in a failed attempt at the majesty of rock. The failure of the bit was a turning point in the film, and illustrated the numerous failures and challenges the band had at the time. In the film, Guest played lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel, while McKean played lead singer David St. Hubbins. The pair formed a sort of Lennon/McCartney or Jagger/Richards creative pair, with Shearer playing a Ringo-esque bass player Derek Smalls.

Spinal Tap appeared as the musical guests on Saturday Night live in 1984, and they reunited for an album and tour in 1992. In 2009, they released another album with re-recorded classics and some new songs. The enduring popularity of the movie has resulted in several re-releases of the film on home video, one of which featured the band doing the DVD commentary in character. The band has also appeared as special guests at concerts, including at Live Earth in 2007 where they were joined by “every bass player in the world” for the bass-heavy song “Big Bottom”.

Though the movie satirized subjects from The Beatles to numerous Heavy Metal cliches, the band has always been popular with actual rock stars. For example, the album from the movie Smell the Glove was a parody of the Beatles’ White Album.  Yet, in 1991, Metallica issued the so-called Black Album that was clearly a nod to Spinal Tap (not The Beatles).