Ric Parnell, 'Spinal Tap' drummer and Missoula resident, dies at age 70

Missoulian Staff

Ric Parnell, a virtuoso drummer from “This is Spinal Tap” who called Missoula home, died over the weekend at age 70.

Parnell portrayed Mick Shrimpton, a drummer in Rob Reiner’s 1984 rockumentary, with tributes and obituaries flooding in around the internet on rock and film sites.

Here in Missoula, he was known not just for that classic film credit, but his drum skills.

While other musicians were floored by his ability, he described it simply: “I hit things for a living.”

His “Tap” co-star Harry Shearer wrote, “No one ever rocked harder,” in a Facebook post on Monday.

Parnell also hosted a show on the Trail 103.3 FM called “Spontaneous Combustion,” a reference to Shrimpton’s on-stage explosion.

According to a 2007 Missoulian interview, he was born in London in 1951, the son of a jazz band leader. He picked up music quickly, and by age 16 was touring with Englebert Humperdinck.

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In 1970, he joined a prog-rock band called Atomic Rooster. (He said he was fired twice). That led to a gig with an Italian group, Ibis, then one called Nova that decamped for the United States.

Working in Los Angeles,

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