Spinal Tap started in 1964 as a satire about the silliness and over-indulgence that commonly stereotypes Rock and Roll. Comedy writer Michael McKean (a.k.a. David St. Hubbins; vocals), and actors Nigel Tufnell (Real Name: Christopher Guest; ex-National Lampoon; guitar) and Derek Smalls (Real Name: Harry Sheater; bass), as well as various drummers starting with Ric Parnell graced the original membership.
It's popularity started as a TV sketch that first appeared on a 1979 ABC TV sketch comedy pilot called The T.V. Show, starring Rob Reiner. The sketch was actually a mock promotional video for the song Rock and Roll Nightmare, was written by Reiner and the band, and included songwriter/performer Loudon Wainwright III on keyboards. In 1984 the skit evolved into a full-featured comedy documentary film depicting a struggling English band undertaking a disastrous U.S. tour. Stonehenge stage props, cucumbers placed down the front of trousers, drummers who would die in "bizarre gardening accidents", leather, long hair and the famous amps that went to 11 was just a sample of the silliness bestowed by this group. Done in an almost convincing documentary style it exploited every Heavy Metal cliché in the book. The film This Is Spinal Tap was completed in 1984 with a soundtrack by the same name. Spinal Tap originally featured two true-life musicians during its TV time, but Louden Wainwright and drummer Russ Kunkel dropped out shortly before the movie. Although the film was a flop at the time, it has subsequently been catapulted into cult status on video with the members following it up with the releases of the singles Big Bottom, (Listen To The) Flower People and Sex Farm.
The band appeared as the musical guests on an episode of Saturday Night Live (SNL) in the spring of 1984. Barry Bostwick was the host. At this time producer Dick Ebersol approached Shearer, Guest and McKean to join the cast. Shearer and Guest accepted. (McKean would not join until ten years later, by which time original producer Lorne Michaels was back at the show's helm.) Shearer's stint on SNL the following seasonhis second, the first having been the 197980 seasonwas to be short-lived, following creative disputes with the show's management. Shearer has said that when Ebersol made the offer during the Spinal Tap guest appearance, "I didn't realize that guests were treated better than cast members."
In 1985 at the invitation of Ronnie James Dio, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer took part in the heavy metal benefit project Hear 'n Aid, to raise money for Ethiopian refugees. McKean and Shearer met dozens of real-life metal stars, many of whom were huge fans of Spinal Tap. The musicians greatly enjoyed meeting McKean and Shearer and sharing their own stories of disastrous gigs and malfunctioning special effects.
In 1992 a comeback of sorts was attempted with Jeff Beck, Slash and Cher sharing spots on the album Break Like The Wind (1992). A movie sequel was released as well as further EP releases of Bitch School (1992) and The Majesty Of Rock EP (1992), all getting them top 50 chartings, now playing the parts of real musicians.
It is important to note that Spinal Tap actually has two discographies, a fictional one and a real one. What Diskery is listing is the real one, which also includes the latest release Back From the Dead from their 2009 reunion.