Saturday, October 26, 2013

Legitimategolf talks to... Ric Parnell

The classic Tap lineup, from left: Nigel Tufnel, Derek Smalls, David St. Hubbins, Mick Shrimpton (aka Ric Parnell), Viv Savage
One of the few things I dig more than this dumb sport is classic rock and roll music, and like most fans of the rock I love the 1981 motion picture This Is Spinal Tap. It's one of my all-time favorites.

A few weeks ago I caught an airing on the BBC America channel and enjoyed it thoroughly as always. Watching it this time around I noticed the great work of the two supporting band members--Viv Savage (keyboards) and Mick Shrimpton (drums), and how much they add to the gritty authenticity of the whole Spinal Tap milieu. That's the great thing about this movie--is it a joke, or is it real? Maybe it's both, or maybe it's neither.

Shrimpton in particular is pitch-perfect as the skinny, wasted drummer rockstar archetype. Though his speaking parts in the film are criminally few he delivers some killer lines, does an awesome pratfall, and provides some top-notch rock drumming which helps elevate This Is Spinal Tap from cult movie to cultural monument. (Mick, you should know, is a legitimate pro drummer with real pedigree. We've all heard his work on that worldwide #1 smash hit "Mickey" by Toni Basil.)

Present-day Ric demonstrating some solid folf fundamentals.
Curious to find out more about these guys, I fired up the old search engine. I was delighted to find out that Mick, a.k.a. Ric Parnell, an Englishman by birth, now resides happily in Missoula, Montana U.S.A and is an avid golfer who rides a bike to the golf course. As a rock'n'roll loving bicyclist and golfer myself, who also sometimes combines the latter two activities, I was rather stunned to find such a busy intersection of so many of my own interests. I had to find out more. By the magic of the internet I was able to reach out and contact Mr. Parnell and ask him a few quick questions about golf and what not.

Legitimategolf: Hey Ric! Let me just say how thrilled we are to have you on, and what huge fans we are of yours and all your films--well, not yours specifically, but talking about the whole genre of mockumentary films...sorry, I couldn't resist.

First if you don't mind, you'll have to indulge me with a couple of Tap-related questions. As a member of the Tap during one of its well-documented rough patches, what was your real opinion of "Jazz Odyssey"?

Derek wrote Jazz Odyssey... 'nuff said.

LG: I think we can all agree on that no one really likes Derek, but it's good to hear it from an insider. Do you keep up with Viv Savage?

Viv died when he was visiting Mick's grave, and it exploded.

LG: I was not aware of that, but that's rather fitting I suppose. When you fell off the drumkit in the film, wasn't that painful? I'd think a drum with all those pointy spurs and lugs and what not, is a terrible thing to fall on to.

I was drunk when I fell off the stool, so I was amazingly unhurt!

LG: When, how and why did you start playing golf?

My Dad and my Grandpa were avid golfers; I started playing with them around seven or eight years old.

LG: How would you describe your golf game?

I was a member of a local club called Highlands a couple years ago, and they rated my game at a 12 handicap.

LG: Ric, so glad to hear you are legit, and not one of these johnny-come-lately duffers. How would you describe your golf bag?

A bag's a bag.

LG: Amen. We here at are not golf gear snobs either. Do you have a "home" or regular course?

See previous answer.

LG: That is cool. I am "homeless", too. Do you ever get recognized by Tap fans on the golf course?

Not on the course (not often, anyway).

LG: Sad that so many people don't know their rock and roll history. Golfers can be such doofuses like that. Do you follow pro golf and/or have a favorite player(s)?

Nick Faldo was my man; these days, there's too many good players (still love El Tigre, tho).

LG: Hell yeah. I'm glad you didn't say "Rickie Fowler" or something like that. Do you spend more time in a week playing drums or golf?

Bicycling takes up most of my time, then drums.

LG: What's cool about your local golf scene?

This is a small town, and it has five really good (public) fact I now live half a mile from a fabulous recently built course called Canyon River; I'll probably join next year if I have the readies.

LG: I really hope you do. I'm checking out this Canyon River on the internet, and it looks fantastic. So, here's a series of quick questions. If you had to play 36 holes on a backed up golf course with either of these musicians (who are known to play) would you rather play with:

LG: Bob Dylan or Neil Young?


LG: I was hoping you'd say Bob. But you can't go wrong either way I suppose. Stills or Nash?


LG: Alan White, drummer for Yes, or Mick Fleetwood?


LG: Glenn Frey or Don Felder?


LG: Alice Cooper or Celine Dion?

Alice (I've wanted to for years.)

LG: Eddie Van Halen or Snoop Dogg?


LG: Van Halen is definitely more talented, but he's probably annoying to hang out with. Bob Seger or Steve Miller?


LG: No way! Seger all the way. "Workin' on my swing moves/trying to lose these awkward over-the-top blues..." Sorry. Hootie and the Blowfish, or Creed?


LG: Tough choice. I'm picking Hootie--they seem like okay guys at least. Kenny G or Michael Bolton?


LG: Yeah, that's not a very nice question either, I guess. Sorry. Moving on, does having a keen sense of meter and tempo help one play golf at all?

Yes, without a doubt!

LG: I've read that you ride a bicycle to the golf course. I have to take the subway to the course, but I ride my bike about a mile to get to the station. It's a little awkward, but I make it work. What's your trip like?

This is the 3rd largest cycling town in the continental U.S.A per capita...VERY bike friendly!

LG: Wish I could say the same about this dump. Word on the street is that you are also into "disc" golf. How'd that come about?

Folf is kewl! My biographer and musical partner Tim Wilson turned me onto it on a course in the foothills of the Bitterroot Mountains, overlooking Hoyt Axton's old house and studio. Gorgeous!

LG: Excuse me, folf. On this end, we're pretty much ball-golf 24/7. Maybe you could help sell us on this so-called folf. What's one thing that's better about folf?

Folf is WAY less stressful!

LG: You have a point there, golf is pretty stressful, especially for a so-called hobby. Lastly, any current music projects you'd like to plug?

I've got two recent albums on Career Records: "Detroit" by Deniz Tek, and "Turned Up Later" by Donovan's Brain. Soon to come is my project with Tim: "Brozephus".

LG: Ric, again thanks a bunch for your time, this really was a thrill. Please, stay in touch and if there's ever anything golf-related in your world that you want to share, we'd love to hear about it.


  1. Wow! Great job. I'd say one of my top 5 films.

  2. It is interesting that Mr. Parnell plays disc golf. I began playing years ago as something "golf like" to do when snow was on the ground.

  3. Hello,
    The given golf related conversation is very helpful to understand the the Golf game. Thanks for sharing it...

  4. I have to agree..disc golf is waaay less stressful!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Surprised nothing was discussed regarding Ric's notable work during the 1970's, in particular as a member of Atomic Rooster. That, and the fact his father Jack Parnell was one of the great British jazz drummers of the 1950's.


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