Not a lot of people can’t be described by the old saying “they don’t make them like this anymore” on many a level – the great Ric Parnell, who passed away today, on May 1st, at the young age of 70, could. Ric was a legend even to those that had no idea of his principal musical career and new Parnell only as Mick Shrimpton, a self-combustive drummer for SPINAL TAP, and his brother Ric Shrimpton – which, sadly, became the veteran’s main claim to fame, despite his distinguished work with quite a few prominent collectives, including ATOMIC ROOSTER.
This artist seemed predestined to hit the skins, following in the footsteps of his father Jack Parnell, the famous English swing drummer and bandleader, although it was as a singer with THE RIC PARNELL INDEPENDENCE alongside such rock scene stalwarts-in-waiting as Peter van Hooke, Chaz Jankel and John Altman that he first took on a noticeable stage stance, before moving to the back ad sitting behind the kit with heavy psychoderelicts HORSE for their sole, eponymous album, a current cult classic, and then progressing into Vincent Crane’s ensemble. As a member of ROOSTER Parnell recorded two platters, providing “Made In England” and “Nice ‘n’ Greasy” with a solidly peculiar groove for Chris Farlowe and Peter French’s voices to bounce off of, on- and off-stage – plus delivering lead vocals on “Little Bit Of Inner Air” on the former LP – and finding a perfect partner-in-crime in a fellow substance-lover Steve Bolton.
Later on, Ric’s beats would be heard, at various times, on the records by Michael Des Barres‘ ZOO, alongside his childhood friend John Goodsall, and Paul Delph’s ZOO DRIVE, Parnell’s spell with the latter band preventing him from joining JOURNEY; with Italian collectives TRITONS and IBIS, the drummer also a lyricist for the second of these; with Toni Basil and Jon Anderson.
In the ’80s, Ric relocated to the States yet remained active on all fronts, musical, contributing to the tracks by Deniz Tek and DONOVAN’S BRAIN, and otherwise, getting incarcerated for a while in 2018 for DUI. One of the veteran’s last recordings was on “Locked In A Graveyard” – a piece Mark Murdock and this scribe co-penned for a tribute to ATOMIC ROOSTER, and we used to be conversing once and again, with Parnell often coming across as belligerent but always funny and warm.
Yes, he was a fighter, immensely weakened morally by Goodsall’s passing six month ago, striving to sit in with BRAND X very recently – and fading away in the last week to receive palliative care and taken care of by his former girlfriend and best friend till the very end which happened at home. She set a GoFundMe page to help pay for his final expenses, so fans are able to contribute. Ric Parnell will be sorely, sorely missed. They don’t make them like this anymore, indeed.