When King Crimson’s Frontman Joined Spinal Tap
Belew – who also worked with David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Talking Heads and others – joined King Crimson in the early '80s and last performed with the group in 2008. He was on tour while Spinal Tap were also on the road, supporting their Break Like the Wind reunion album, released in 1992.
Belew recalled in a Facebook post what happened when he happened to be in the same city as the parody rock band. “On a night off, my promoter Danny Zelesko took me to see Spinal Tap,” Belew said. “He promoted their concert that night at a large outdoor venue. Just before they did their encore, we went backstage. They seemed excited to see me and they asked me to join them for their new song ‘Break Like the Wind.’”
When he admitted he didn’t know the track, “Nigel [Tufnel, played by actor Christopher Guest] said in his Nigel voice, ‘Do you know an E chord?’ I said, ‘yes!’ They said, ‘you’re in!’” He continued, “so I played ‘Break Like the Wind’ with my very best E chord. I ended up playing bass on ‘Big Bottoms’ as well (everyone played bass) in what was a riot of an evening. I love Tap!”
Belew also recalled that, after the show, frontman David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) said he’d listened to “The Man Behind the Curtain,” a song by Belew’s band the Bears, every morning for two years. He added, “Recently Mr. St. Hubbins … tweeted me to say ‘cheers.’ Now that’s a band I would love to be in!”
Spinal Tap – Tufnel and McKean, alongside Harry Shearer as Derek Smalls – recently confirmed a reunion to mark the 35th anniversary of the movie This Is Spinal Tap, originally released in 1984. They’ll perform at the Tribeca Film Festival 2019 in New York City, where an anniversary screening will take place.