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Tap Into the Future: Pick Spinal Tap's New Drummer

Lost amid all the hubbub over our collapsing economy was the news that Spinal Tap is releasing its first new album in 16 years. Harry Shearer, bass player for the heavy metal mockers, told BBC radio that the band is back in the studio working on material for a 25th anniversary release later this year.

I can still remember going to see the movie when it first came out, with my college roommate Pat at that single-screen KB Cinema on Connecticut Wisconsin Avenue. It was one of the funniest films I'd ever seen (and certainly deserving a higher place than 29th on the AFI's list of greatest American comedies). Even so, I remember hearing one guy muttering as we left the theater: "Well, that was dumb. I never even heard of that band." Refreshing, really.

It was the last sentence of the Guardian story announcing the reunion that caught my eye: "The band have yet to announce their new drummer." Seldom has a sentence brimmed with such unspoken menace.

Spinal Tap drummers have not fared well. Gardening accidents, aspirated mystery vomit, spontaneous human combustion: these have been the fates of former Tap sticksmen. But, despite the consequences, a drummer must be chosen and it made me think that some well-known public figures might be good candidates:

Alberto Gonzales. George W. Bush's former attorney general has been unemployed since leaving office 17 months ago. Being Spinal Tap's drummer may be marginally less dangerous than driving a tanker truck from Karachi to Baghdad. Gonzales has shown no drumming skill heretofore, but he's from Texas so probably can handle ZZ Top covers.

Alex Rodriguez. Like Gonzales, A-Rod isn't known as a drummer. But A-Rod does know how to handle large pieces of wood. Spinal Tap could start him off with a pair of huge drumsticks, a la Cheap Trick's Bun E. Carlos, then slowly work him down to some Regal Tip 5As. We know he has the stamina to play a three-hour concert. And the substance abuse that comes with a rock and roll lifestyle shouldn't be a problem, either.

Madonna. Is there nothing this modern Renaissance woman can't do? She's a singer, she's a dancer, she's an actress. She knows how to hold a guitar. And she taught herself an English accent. Surely she could master a few paradiddles.

Kim Jong-Il. The reclusive North Korean dictator is said to be obsessed with the West. What better way to immerse himself in our decadent culture than joining a heavy metal band? He already has wild hair. And there's a song written about him. He's a multi-talented guy and could probably contribute some lyrics himself. "I'm Hungry for Your Love (Though Not as Hungry as My 24 Million Citizens)." One drawback is that Kim Jong-Il only stands about 4 feet tall. He'd be lost behind a regular drum set. Luckily, he could use a special children's set.

What do you think? Any of these public figures would make a strong contribution to Spinal Tap. Yes, there's the risk that they might burst into flames or be squished by a falling grand piano, but that's a chance I'm willing to take.

Vote for Spinal Tap's new drummer:

Blog Reckoning
It's been about four months since "John Kelly's Commons" started and today I'm having a meeting with the person who edits my blog. We're going to talk about how it's going, what works, what doesn't, etc. He has detailed numbers, of course, on how many people read it. He said it ranks among's Top 50 blogs, which is a bit like calling Idaho one of America's Top 50 states.

Before I sit down with him, are there any thoughts you want to share? Ideas? Leave 'em below or e-mail me at Thanks.

By John Kelly  |  February 11, 2009; 9:35 AM ET
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Next: Love at First Sight: The Tony and Julia Files


Whoops. The theater I saw "Spinal Tap" at was on Wisconsin Avenue. I've corrected me egregious error.

Posted by: JohnFKelly | February 11, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Joe the Plumber. Plumber, Drummer -- it's hardly a change at all. And his 15 minutes would finally come to an end, in a spectacular tragedy that would be fittingly absurd.

Posted by: Janine1 | February 11, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

John, Vanity Fair interviewed Spinal Tap for its March issue:

VF asked about the new drummer:

Who will the drummer be [on the new tour] and what steps are you taking to protect his or her safety?

Tufnel: There’s no protection, clearly.

St. Hubbins: His name is Skippy Skuffy.

Tufnel: The guy now, Skippy—but we don’t know really if he’s going to live. There’s no insurance policy.

Given the fate of previous Spinal Tap drummers, I'd go with Madonna. I'm hoping spontaneous human combustion strikes twice.

Posted by: cab91 | February 11, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Saw Spinal Tap at the theater in Tyson's on Rt 7. The one where Night Dreams is now.

Posted by: wiredog | February 11, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

The drummer for the Romantics also used big drumsticks (it looked like he cut them down to a flat surface). Didn't have as cool a name as Bun E. Carlos, though.

Posted by: staxowax | February 11, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Ringo Starr. Not because I want him to meet a tragic fate, but because he might actually become a good drummer by playing with Tap.

(OK, I'm allowed to hallucinate, aren't I?)

Posted by: SSMD1 | February 11, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I was going to suggest that you might fit the bill, John, until I saw cab91's suggestion of Madonna. I'm no Madge fan, but given her predelictions in some of her film roles, she might do innovative things with the big drumsticks.

Posted by: reddragon1 | February 11, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

To follow up.

John, pay no attention to any bad news your editor gives you about the numbers, or the other 5 people who post to your blog. We love you. Where else can we find a media person who will point out that the Limeys (and I say that with great affection) are just as messed up as we are?

Posted by: reddragon1 | February 11, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, and if you discount the Post's various political blogs, where the entertainment value is mostly commenters throwing firebombs at each other, then you've got be in the top 25, maybe even top 10, right? Besides Achenblog, Celebritology, and the family-balancing blog (which, every time I've seen it, has a lot of bombthrowers too), who's really burning up the wires here?

Posted by: Janine1 | February 11, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I think this is the perfect opportunity for Lars Ulrich.

Posted by: wizard2 | February 11, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

george dubya bush
as he has been para diddling,ratamataning and
flamadiddling thru his presidency for 8 years seeems to have had plenty of practicing.........

and what a great stage name......

dubya....maybe he can do reggae....
he has had some of that experience also

Posted by: syzygykid2 | February 11, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Actually.....Madge started out trying to break into the NYC Punk scene. She tried both drums and guitar but soon found that even 70s punk required some modicum of talent and ability to play one's instrument. It was then she figured that singing was the path of least resistance. Let's bring her full-circle.

Posted by: nonsensical2001 | February 11, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

staxowak wrote:

The drummer for the Romantics also used big drumsticks (it looked like he cut them down to a flat surface). Didn't have as cool a name as Bun E. Carlos, though.

Bun is w/ Cheap Trick, but yeah, he did the big drumstick thing.

Posted by: nonsensical2001 | February 11, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Who could forget David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel? And Derek Smalls pulling that cucumber out of his pants?

This film is the second best music mockumentary of all time. The first? Why "A Mighty Wind," of course!

Posted by: kjohnson3 | February 11, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

By the way, my vote for drummer would be Rush Limbaugh.

Posted by: kjohnson3 | February 11, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Given the fate of Spinal Tap drummers I would be reluctant to name anyone who could make significant contributions to mankind.

Erog, I nominate a "drummers duo" of Gerson and Krauthammer, killing two birds with one stone!

Posted by: fide | February 11, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

You mean 'A Mighty Wind' was a mockumentary? I could have sworn it was serious! ;-) I worked with folk singers and groups who acted exactly like that when WFMA was putting on those ridiculous concerts. No, wait, I think they're still doing that nonsense. Older but not wiser.

Posted by: Baltimore11 | February 11, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Rod "Blago" Blagojevich has demonstrated perfect pitch for tone-deafness and certainly has a knack for beating a dead horse.

I remember Paul Dooley not playing the guitar in "A Mighty Wind." Blago could also not play the drums.

Posted by: hlabadie | February 11, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Ooops, last post had typo -- Erog should be Ergo...

Posted by: fide | February 11, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

J Kelly

Posted by: observer23 | February 11, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

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