Spinal Tap Say Guns N’ Roses Sabotaged Freddie Mercury Tribute
The actors who play the members of Spinal Tap said their appearance at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert was sabotaged by a member of Guns N’ Roses, whom they refused to name.
Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer appeared onstage as David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel and Derek Smalls at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1992 at an event paying tribute to the life of Queen singer Mercury, who died the previous year.
Alongside short sets from GNR, Metallica, Def Leppard and others, Spinal Tap performed their track “The Majesty of Rock” after a pompous arrival. “In [Mercury’s] honor we would like to cut our set short tonight by about 35 songs,” Guest (as Tufnel) said. Shearer (as Smalls) added, “We believe Freddie would have wanted it this way.”
In a new interview with Billboard, Guest was asked about the suggestion that his guitar wasn’t plugged in as the band played. “It was plugged in, but there was a little of mischief there because someone had sabotaged [my rig],” he replied. “It lasted a long time before they had to switch me to another amp. ... The bad news was once they plugged me into another thing, I had none of my effects. So it was kind of sad.”
“The theory I heard was that somebody on Guns N' Roses [did it] as a gag," McKean said. Shearer stated that he’d “heard a specific name” but that he wasn’t going to repeat it.
Watch Spinal Tap at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
Elsewhere in the interview, the trio reflected on the mixed legacy of a spoof band that had actually written its own songs and always played live, with Guest recalling a charity show in Miami with Chaka Khan and Michael Bolton.
“I walked out to just see the Chaka Khan portion of this thing," he said. "In the middle of this song that we saw, the track stops, she's still singing and the band are pretending to play. So now you've hired musicians to go out, and they're not playing. … At that time they were using [Digital Audio Tapes], and it froze a minimum of five or six times during this one song. She was furious.”
He noted that the "audience had no moment of, ‘Hey, what's going on?’ Nothing. There was no moment of, ‘This doesn't make sense.’ And we looked at each other and thought, the irony of this is, we're going on next and we're playing live, which we always do.”