It’s not that often when metal creeps its way into mainstream pop culture. So when metal/hard rock acts do actually pop up in beloved sitcoms, dramatic films, cartoons or even reality series, it’s kind of awesome. So in the weekly column Remember When, Metal Insider recalls the most random instances of metal’s elite appearing in front of the camera.
Did Metallica rip off the cover of Spinal Tap’s Smell The Glove? Well that was the question David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel and Derek Smalls of the infamous Spinal Tap hoped to answer when they confronted Metallica in the early nineties.
The “confrontation” was caught on camera and appeared in A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica, a home video documentary chronicling the making of the Black Album and tour in support of the record. At one point in the film, James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett find themselves backstage trying to tip toe around questions asked by the almighty Spinal Tap (portrayed by Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer), who make it clear they have a “bone to pick” with the band over the similarities between the Black Album and Smell The Glove’s all black covers. In the end, Spinal Tap accept Hetfield and Hammett’s claim that it was an homage to them, and they continue to make jokes with one another about guitar scales and Derek Smalls’ mother’s tongue.
Hopefully by now you recognize that the “confrontation” was a joke, and simply a way for Metallica to goof off with the masterminds behind the classic comedy This Is Spinal Tap (which we hope you’ve seen if you are visiting a metal website called Metal Insider). The bit shows a still young Metallica beginning the crazy roller costar known as the Black Album’s massive success able to take a joke, while also capturing how influential This Is Spinal Tap was even in the early 90s.
Like almost every hard rock and metal band, Metallica continues to pay respect to Spinal Tap and the film that hit too close to home for bands. Hetfield, Hammett and Robert Trujillo even joined Spinal Tap on stage (along with a crap ton of bassists) for a rendition of “Big Bottom” at Live Earth in 2007. Just last year Lars Ulrich praised This Is Spinal Tap as a “horror film” during an appearance on The History Channel’s Join Or Die with Craig Ferguson. “Every single functioning band out there has sat and looked at that movie and cringed because we have all lived every one of those ‘Hello Cleveland’ moments,” he said. “You can’t find the stage; you’re stuck inside the stage prop.”
While Metallica continues its reign as one of the biggest rock bands in the world, the actors behind Spinal Tap have regrouped for the occasional new recording and show, and are currently reuniting … in court to sue Vivendi Studios over unpaid royalties from the film.
Anyways, relive Metallica and Spinal Tap’s “confrontation” below.