Spinal Tap reunite to sue Vivendi for $400 million

Spinal Tap
Spinal Tap

The three co-creators of mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap have joined forces in a $400 million lawsuit against French media firm Vivendi – the parent company of Universal Music.

Harry Shearer, who co-wrote the film and soundtrack and starred as bassist Derek Smalls, originally filed a suit against the company last year for $125m, claiming Vivendi had withheld millions of dollars in profits since acquiring the rights to the film in 1989.

Now, with the addition of Spinal Tap members Christopher Guest and Michael McKean, aka Nigel Tufnel and David St. Hubbins, along with director Rob Reiner, the size of the claim has been boosted to $400m.

The original claim said the creators had been paid just $98 between 1989-2006 for soundtrack sales royalties, while merchandise sales generated a total of $81 between 1984-2006.

Reiner says: “Fair reward for artistic endeavour has long been raised by those on the wrong end of the equation. What makes this case so egregious is the prolonged and deliberate concealment of profit and the purposeful manipulation of revenue allocation between various Vivendi subsidiaries – to the detriment of the creative talent behind the band and film.

“Such anti-competitive practices need to be exposed. I am hoping this lawsuit goes to 11.”

McKean adds: “This Is Spinal Tap was the result of four very stubborn guys working very hard to create something new under the sun.

“The movie’s influence on the last three decades of film comedy is something we are very proud of. But the buck always stopped somewhere short of Rob, Harry, Chris and myself. It’s time for a reckoning. It’s only right.”

And with the band back together, Shearer says: “Their participation will help demonstrate the opaque and misleading conduct at the heart of this case. We’re even louder now.”

This Is Spinal Tap was created on a budget of $2.2m and released in 1984.

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Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent more than 30 years in newspapers and magazines as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. After initially joining our news desk in the summer of 2014, he moved to the e-commerce team full-time in 2020. He maintains Louder’s buyer’s guides, scouts out the best deals for music fans and reviews headphones, speakers, books and more. He's written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog and has previous written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to video games, travel and whisky. Scott grew up listening to rock and prog, cutting his teeth on bands such as Marillion and Magnum before his focus shifted to alternative and post-punk in the late 80s. His favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Ned's Atomic Dustbin and Drab Majesty, but he also still has a deep love of Rush.