Author: Michael Pementel
Via a conversation with 101WRIF radio station’s Talkin’ Rock show, W.A.S.P. singer Blackie Lawless spoke to a past incident involving the late Metallica bassist Cliff Burton that reflects a scene from the heavy metal movie This Is Spinal Tap.
This Is Spinal Tap is a 1984 mockumentary movie about a fictional British heavy metal band called Spinal Tap.
Before getting into this incident that involves the late Cliff Burton, Lawless speaks to how he was able to see This Is Spinal Tap before others (given that he was involved in a commercial for the heavy metal movie). All the following transcriptions are via Ultimate guitar.
Lawless speaks to seeing Spinal Tap movie
“I go to the screening here in Hollywood, at the Directors Guild for the movie hadn’t even been released yet. The Directors Guild theatre here in Hollywood, it’s about a 2000-seat room, it’s pretty big. We’re sitting there. We don’t know exactly what to expect, because I remember when I met with Michael McKean [who portrays frontman David St. Hubbins], and Chris Guest [lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel] and Harry Shearer [bassist Derek Smalls], I went in and had a meeting with them before we shot anything a couple of days before.
“And we’re sitting there and they look like they normally do. Well, when it comes time to do the shoot – they were part of the commercial as well – they come walking out with all the stuff on. My jaw dropped. And so I had a fair idea of what this was going to be. But it wasn’t until we went to the screening of the movie – 2000 people literally falling out of their chairs laughing. And Rod [Smallwood, W.A.S.P. manager] and I are sitting there stiff as a board, like condemned men going for the last walk. You know, it was not funny to me at all. Even to this day: I’ll watch it once every four or five years, and it’s still – I’m a little looser about it now than I was – but so much of the stuff that’s in that movie is factual.”
Lawless later goes into a real-life moment that feels ripped right out of the movie; specifically, he talks about a real incident involving the late Metallica bassist Cliff Burton that reflects a scene from the film.
“On our first tour of America, it was us, Metallica, and Armored Saint. We got to a gig in Indianapolis one afternoon, it was late. And because we’d had a long drive the night before, nobody got sound checks. And it was an old VFW hall that we were playing. And the dressing rooms were in the basement. And it was like a maze down there. We were alternating with Metallica one night, they’d close. Next night, we’d close and we’d flip-flop like that.
“Well, this happened to be one of the nights we were closing. So I’m downstairs [in a] bathroom and I’m shaving. I hear Metallica’s intro tape start to roll. And the door comes flying open. I’m shaving, I’m looking in the mirror. And I got the razor to my throat. I looked behind me.
“There’s Cliff standing there with his bass on. And he doesn’t know how to get to the stage. And he’s telling me, ‘Blackie, Blackie, how do I get on stage, how do I get on stage?’ And I hadn’t been up there yet. So I didn’t know myself because like I said, we got there late. Nobody got sound checks, no nothing.
“So I didn’t know where I was. And I was busting his chops. And I say, ‘Cliff, I don’t know;’ I’m looking at him in the mirror. He goes, ‘Aaah, screw you Blackie,’ he runs. And finally, about two minutes later, I hear the bass come in after the band had already started…. And so needless to say, I’m having flashbacks of the movie right there.”
What do you think of Lawless’ story? You can check out a scene below from This Is Spinal Tap that reflects what took place in real-life involving Lawless and Burton.