Imagine if Spinal Tap performed live with Uriah Heep — that’s sort of like what happened 36 years ago when Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Queen’s Brian May appeared onstage with the parody metal band Bad News before an Iron Maiden concert at the Hammersmith Odeon in London.

The legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist posted a tribute to the fictional rockers of Bad News on his official Instagram account on Wednesday as he recalled the fateful night when all of the stars aligned for him and May to hold a shredding competition with the Bad News frontman Vim Fuego, played by English comedian and television writer Ade Edmondson. 

Against all odds, Fuego won — under decidedly dubious circumstances.

Bad News was the creation of the popular alternative comedy group The Comic Strip for their successful television series The Comic Strip Presents…, which ran for five seasons in the middle of the 1980s. The creation of the band for television was meant to satirize the fly-on-the-wall music documentaries that were popular at the time with a disastrous, destructive series of mockumentary segments in which an incompetent band was reported on by an equally incompetent crew of documentarians. Worth noting, the original Bad News episode of The Comic Strip Presents… aired a year before the release of This Is Spinal Tap.

The fictional musicians that comprised the ostentatious, ornery hair metal band were all played by members of The Comic Strip, and despite the mythos of the band being fully fictional and the performances being over-the-top parody, the music was unironically successful, prompting The Comic Strip to take their fictional musical talents on tour. 

The showdown between Fuego, Page and May happened while Bad News was opening for Iron Maiden during a series of shows in the U.K., and though Page’s involvement with the group ended after his embarrassing defeat in the shredding showdown, May took a liking to the the group. As such, the Queen guitarist would go on to help them make the breakthrough of their short parody musical careers. In 1987, he produced Bad News’ eponymous debut album, which featured the biggest hit song in the band’s history, an obnoxious thrash-rock cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” that peaked at number 44 on the U.K. Singles Chart. The single was accompanied by a music video in which the parody band attempts a stumbling, bumbling Queen impression to disastrous results.

May joined Bad News on a U.K. tour in 1987, performing “Bohemian Rhapsody” with the bawdy bunch during encores. The next year, The Comic Strip Presents… put out one final Bad News episode in an hour-long documentary detailing the band’s initial breakup because of “personality conflicts,” their triumphant reunion, the failure of their return single and a disastrous final performance in which the band plays so poorly that a riot ensues and the four fictional rockers are beaten mercilessly by both audience members and police officers. The episode ends with the four severely injured rockers lying in hospital beds, with the rhythm guitarist Dennis speculating that, if Fuego dies, the band could yet be a success.

And to think, the guy who wrote the riff to “Whole Lotta Love” lost a head-to-head battle with these guys. How embarrassing.

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