Settlement not disclosed but 2016 lawsuit claiming fraudulent accounting initially sought $125m and was increased to $400m
Gimme Some Money – spoof rock band Spinal Tap once sang. Now after a three year battle with Universal Music the bands dreams have come true.
Cult movie This Is Spinal Tap, a film about Englands (fictional) loudest heavy metal band was a modest success when it was released in 1984 but has grown into a cult classic.
Directed and co-written by Rob Reiner the film satirized awful behavior in the music industry and arguably launched the mockumentary genre with its depiction of a fake tour, featuring an accidentally tiny Stonehenge stage set, songs including Big Bottom and Sex Farm, and custom-made amplifiers that have volume knobs that go up to eleven.
Harry Shearer, who played bassist Derek Smalls in the film and later voiced characters in The Simpsons, launched the lawsuit against Universal and Studio Canal, both owned by media conglomerate Vivendi, in 2016 claiming fraudulent accounting and anti-competitive behaviour.
He initially sought $125m in damages and claimed the group had been paid just $98 between 1989 and 2006 for royalties on soundtrack sales and $81 for merchandise between 1984 and 2006.
The claim was increased to $400m after Shearer was joined in the suit by film-maker Christopher Guest, who played guitarist Nigel Tufnel; actor Michael McKean, who played singer David St Hubbins, and Reiner.
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed and the suit over royalties from the film is ongoing.
According to the settlement, Universal Music Group will continue to distribute Spinal Taps music, although eventually the rights will be given to the creators. The parties look forward to making these beloved recordings available to existing and new Spinal Tap fans for years to come.