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(Credit: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert / Alamy)

Music

Remembering when Pulp's Jarvis Cocker joined Spinal Tap

@SamWKemp

“Talk about bum cakes, my girls got ’em.” This, and many other lyrics from the 1984 spoof rockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, are well and truly embedded in the public imagination. Released at the height of hair metal, the film cast an ironic gaze over the landscape of classic rock to bring music fans a pastiche of rock stardom in all its lycra-glad glory. Indeed, Rob Reiner’s artful portrayal of the fictional rock group proved to be so true to life that many walked away believing that Spinal Tap was, in fact, a real British rock band.

In a 2010 interview with Newsweek, Reiner revealed that “when Spinal Tap initially came out, everybody thought it was a real band. Everyone said, ‘Why would you make a movie about a band that no one has heard of?’ The reason it did go over everybody’s head was it was very close to the bone.” One of those people was musician Ozzy Osbourne, who, when he discovered that Spinal Tap was actually fictional, confessed that he should have known better. “They seemed quite tame compared to what we got up to,” he once said.

The fact that This Is Spinal Tap felt so real to so many audience members perhaps had something to do with the fact that the band’s fictional life bled into its real one. In July 1984, shortly after the film came out, the group embarked on a secret club tour and released a Christmas single the following winter. They then reformed in 1991 and released their Break Like the Wind album, spawning the single ‘Bitch School’, which became a genuine chart single, as did their follow up release ‘The Majesty of Rock.’

Then, in 2009, Spinal Tap made their iconic appearance at Glastonbury Festival. The band ran through some of the biggest hits from This Is Spinal Tap, including ‘Stonehenge’, ‘Saucy Jack’, ‘Sex Farm’, and ‘Big Bottom’ – the latter of which saw Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker join the stage to offer up his bass skills. Explaining how the strange collaboration came to be, Cocker told Uncut: “I was at Glastonbury, and I got a message from Harry Shearer, asking if I might be able to come along to Wembley Arena and do something at Spinal Tap’s show the following week.”

“I knew I couldn’t make that, but I was at Glastonbury,” Cocker continued, “So I got in touch with them and said, I could do it today. So I ended up getting there ten minutes before they went on stage, and offered to play on that song. It was quite a good spontaneous moment. What’s amazing is that they’re in character all the time. Even backstage, before and after the show, they’re talking in those London accents. That was pretty impressive, actually”.

You can check out Cocker’s equally impressive performance below.