When it comes to the prestigious post of Defence Against The Dark Arts professor, Hogwarts has had a problem with staff retention ever since Dumbledore turned down Lord Voldemort’s application. Each year a new teacher arrives full of ambition – and each year they’re gone before the summer: dead, dismissed or destroyed.
And now Harry Potter author JK Rowling has confirmed the inspiration behind the jinxed teaching job: Spinal Tap.
The QI Elves account tweeted the little-known fact: “According to JK Rowling, the curse of the Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers was inspired by the Spinal Tap drummers regularly dying in bizarre circumstances.”
The spoof metal band Spinal Tap, subject of mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, has been through an absurd number of drummers over the years.
Original fictional drummer John “Stumpy” Pepys died in a gardening “accident” that the authorities said was “best left unsolved”. One choked on vomit “of unknown origin”; another spontaneously combusted on stage. In 1982, Joe “Mama” Besser absconded in Japan, and in 2001 Sammy “Stumpy” Bateman met his end while trying to jump over a tank full of sharks while on a tricycle.
When you count it all up, at least 16 of the band’s drummers have kicked the bucket.
You might wonder why people keep applying for the job – and the same question applies to Hogwarts. Who would answer that job advert?
Harry Potter’s first Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher was the turbaned Professor Quirrell, who quite literally had eyes in the back of his head: Voldemort’s. Then there was Gilderoy Lockhart (destroyed his own memory), Remus Lupin (resigned), Mad-Eye Moody (found to be an impostor), and Dolores Umbridge (dismissed).
For all this time Severus Snape desperately wanted the job, watching with envy as others came and went – and finally Dumbledore appointed him to the professor, only for EVENTS to prevent Professor Snape from lasting the full academic year. Next up was Death Eater Amycus Carrow, who we never even met: he, too, was dismissed.
Perhaps he should consider a career as a drummer in Spinal Tap?