Ric Parnell, who played drummer Mick Shrimpton in the cult mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, has died aged 70.
The actor musician’s cause of death has not been confirmed.
Harry Shearer, who also starred in the 1984 comedy, announced the news on Twitter, writing: “Ric Parnell, our drummer in This is Spinal Tap, passed away today. No one ever rocked harder.”
One of the film’s long-running jokes was the sudden deaths of all the band’s previous drummers. At the end of the movie, Parnell’s character dies in a freak on-stage case of spontaneous combustion.
This Is Spinal Tap is about a fictional British band attempting to reignite their comeback with a tour around America.
The comedy classic also stars Christopher Guest as lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel and Michael McKean as lead singer David St Hubbins.
Despite its over-the-top portrayal of the rock world, many viewers believed the fictional band to be real on its release.
In a case of life imitating art, the band went on to perform on Saturday Night Live, and later reunited for the 1992 album Break Like the Wind.
They also toured in the 1990s and again in 2001.
Parnell, who also performed on the movie soundtrack, would take on the persona of Mick’s brother, Ric Shrimpton, during performances to get over the fact his character died in the finale of the film.
Born in London, Parnell came from a musical background with a jazz drummer father and music hall performer grandfather.
He played in bands including Atomic Rooster and Horse during the early 1970s, before joining several Italian bands.
He reportedly turned down offers to join bands Journey and Whitesnake.
Subscribe to the Backstage podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
However, Parnell’s big moment came when he won the part in This Is Spinal Tap, which has earned critical acclaim and a place in history.
Deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the US Library of Congress, the movie has been selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.
Recently, Parnell had lived in Missoula, Montana, in the US. He co-hosted a weekly late night radio show, jokingly titled Spontaneous Combustion, in a nod to the character who made him famous.
A GoFundMe page set up to help cover the late star’s funeral costs more than doubled its $3,500 (£2,803) goal after just three days.