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This List Goes to 11!: Eleven Trends Predicted by ‘This is Spinal Tap’

From multiple Black Albums to a real amplifier that goes “one louder,” we find the facts that came from the fiction

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Three decades ago this week, the movie This Is Spinal Tap hit theaters, parodying hard rock bands and heavy metal culture so well that phrases like "none more black" now verge on becoming clichés. The mockumentary followed the exploits of a trio of headbangers – comedians Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer as vocalist-guitarists Nigel Tufnel and David St. Hubbins and bassist Derek Smalls, respectively – and filmmaker Marty Di Bergi (played by the movie's real director, Rob Reiner), as the group toured and promoted an album called Smell the Glove

See Where 'This Is Spinal Tap' Ranks on the Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

But while it all looked like fun and Stonehenges, it all seemed very real to some people. A 1984 Rolling Stone feature on the movie recalls people at a rare L.A. club gig for Spinal Tap exclaiming "Nigel's here!" as though they didn't know the guitarist was really a "Christopher." "The closer we dared to get to the real thing, the closer the real thing dared to get to us," Shearer said in the article. "It's like reality is calling our bluff at every step along the way." As it happens, the rock and roll satire managed to predict several very real music trends and events that have come into focus over the past 30 years. Rather than listing 10, Rolling Stone goes one louder: Here are 11 things This Is Spinal Tap anticipated. By Kory Grow

Carrie the Musical

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A Murderous Musical

Toward the end of This Is Spinal Tap, the band members talk about composing a musical based on the life of Jack the Ripper, affectionately titled Saucy Jack. Although Sweeney Todd got its debut in 1979, it was a hit, making Carrie: The Musical the heiress apparent to Saucy Jack. That musical, based on Stephen King's novel, earned a Broadway run in 1988. It lasted only five official performances before closing. If only Saucy Jack and its lyrics like "You're a naughty one, Saucy Jack/ You're a haughty one, Saucy Jack," made it to Broadway it might have gotten through four.


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This Is. . . Anvil?

This Is Spinal Tap director Rob Reiner has said that people approached him around the time of the release talking about the group as if they were "a real band." When the cheekily titled rockumentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil came out in 2008, it was hard to believe any of it was real. While that group has managed to keep one drummer since starting out in 1978 (though he is improbably named "Robb Reiner"), their bass and guitar slots have changed often. In the doc, the group is told it is "big in Europe" but a European tour falls apart. Later, frontman Steve "Lips" Kudlow has to borrow money from his sister to record the group's 13th album. Luckily for them, the tour following the release of the doc allowed them to do more than just rock out; they also screened their documentary on the road.

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Jazz Odyssey

Although free-form jazz oddities are a rare occurrence for most bands – at least the way it's depicted in This Is Spinal Tap when the group attempted to play without Nigel Tufnel – at least one headbanger has ventured into even headier territory without the assistance of Michael Kamen. Eighties guitar idol Yngwie Malmsteen, who put out an album called Odyssey in 1988, released his classical Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in E-Flat Minor, Op. 1 in 1998 with the help of a musician named David Rosenthal. In true Spinal Tap fashion, it came out in Japan before it made it to the U.S. and it proved to be so popular that Malmsteen re-recorded it with the New Japan Philharmonic for a CD release that has come out only in Japan and South Korea.

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