LYME REGIS: Deep Purple legend Ian Gillan has saved Guitars on the Beach from the rocks after the Lyme Regis world record attempt faced cancellation due to a last-minute money problem.
Guitars on the Beach, organised by Geoff Baker, attracted worldwide interest last year and saw 2,267 musicians – including some from Canada, the US and Germany – break the record to create Britain’s biggest band.
This year, organisers suddenly faced having no stage for the event, which is already set to attract more than 3,400 guitarists.
An arrangement with a local scaffolder to build the stage for free fell through after the company was double-booked for work elsewhere.
Although organisers found another scaffolding company to put up the stage on the front beach, they had no idea how to meet the four-figure cost before the record attempt on Saturday, September 6.
Organiser Geoff Baker said: “Without a stage Guitars on the Beach could not go ahead.
“With thousands of guitarists involved, they need to follow the house band on the song and we need a stage for the house band.
“We thought we might have to cancel; a handful of organisers had a whip round amongst ourselves overnight and raised several hundred pounds, but we needed a lot more.
“Then out of the blue, Ian Gillan rang from the middle of Deep Purple’s world tour, saying he had heard about our problems and he would pay for the stage to be built.
“He has saved the day and all of us involved are deeply thankful for his generosity.”
But saving the event from the rocks was not enough for Deep Purple’s famous frontman, who will also sing the rock classic ‘Smoke on the Water’, as thousands of guitarists play along on Lyme Regis beach.
The superstar singer, who lives in Lyme Regis, will take a break from Deep Purple’s world tour to take part.
The other record-bid songs are Status Quo’s ‘Rocking All Over The World’ and Buddy Holly’s ‘Rave On’, which will led by former Lyme schoolboy, actor Billy Geraghty, who played Buddy in the hit West End musical.
The event, staged to accompany star chef Mark Hix’s Food Rocks festival in Lyme over the same weekend, is now picking up support from all quarters.
Mr Hix will hang up his chef’s apron and perform on stage fronting a band of chefs called The Eatles.
Organisers also plan to raise money on the day for five charities – Lyme’s Christmas lights and children’s playground appeals, Exeter cancer-support group FORCE, Axe Valley’s Bloodbikes emergency medical courier team and the natural disasters aid group Water Survival Box.
Main sponsor Fender has donated £1,000 and is supplying two top of the range Fender Stratocaster guitars, which will be raffled off.
In case of other unforeseen costs, organisers have decided to also try and crowd fund the event, and are setting up a Guitars on the Beach page on crowdfunder.co.uk in an appeal for help. To join the band or for more information, sign up at guitarsonthebeach.co.uk.