ORGANISERS of Guitars On The Beach have reluctantly decided that this year’s event on June 27 will be the last time that Britain’s biggest guitar band will play together in Lyme Regis.
Due to a lack of the town council’s support, the unique and hugely-popular gathering of hundreds of guitarists of all ages and abilities at the historic Dorset resort is to end its show on the sand after eight years.
But organisers aim to go out with “our loudest bang yet” as they plan to stage 12 hours of guitar songs to support one last call for more music to be played in schools, a key part of GOTB’s philosophy since the event began in 2013.
The move to pull out of staging the gig at Lyme’s historic Cobb follows just a week after GOTB’s application for direly-needed funding was thrown out at Lyme Regis Town Council’s community grants awards.
Although GOTB has in its time drawn more visitors to Lyme than any event, other than the Red Arrows, the council decided it was not worthy of its support and refused a grant request for £6,000.
Due to the lack of funding, GOTB is now asking for the support of local traders and launching a JustGiving appeal in order to raise enough money to stage the famous sand band’s last stand on Saturday June 27.
“Sadly, this year is going to be our swansong in Lyme,” said GOTB chairman and musical director Brian Street.
‘No choice because of lack of support’
“But we’ve got no choice because of the lack of local support. For the past seven years we have had great support from little local businesses and organisations, including, in the past, the town council, and we are hugely grateful for their help.
“But now that support has dried up. We have had generous pledges of sponsorship for this year from Lyme Bay Holidays, LymeOnline, Axminster Garden Machinery and Andertons Music, but even if you add that to our little savings we’re currently a long way short of what we need to put on a show.
“It’s always been a struggle to stage GOTB in Lyme because you have to remember that our show is totally free, it is completely reliant on sponsorship and donations as you can’t charge people for playing music on a public beach.
“We were astonished and gutted that the town council wouldn’t help us – especially when you consider that, as the owner of most of the town’s car parks, Lyme Regis Town Council makes more money out of Guitars On The Beach than anybody else. Some years the entire beach has been covered thousands of people and they didn’t all walk here.
“Also, over the seven years we’ve been doing GOTB many of those thousands of visitors have bought a pint in the pubs, had a meal in the cafes and restaurants or have even made a weekend stay of it at the local B&Bs, hotels and campsites. Lyme has done very well out of Guitars On The Beach – very well.
‘We’re going to go out with the loudest bang’
“But we’ve had little back; our sponsors have been very loyal but they have been relatively few. So, after years of all of the organisers and the bands doing all that they do for nothing, we’ve decided this will be the last Guitars On The Beach – at least in Lyme, other towns are very interested it us moving it to their seafront or fields.”
Organisers believe the last show in Lyme could be the best show yet.
“We’re going to go out with our biggest, loudest bang,” said GOTB founder Geoff Baker.
“And we will also loudly banging the drum for more music to be taught in schools, something we have been campaigning about for years. Music is the beat of life and it is very regrettable that more and more schools are dropping music from their curriculum in favour of drier academic subjects like history and geology.
“This June 27 will be the last performance in Lyme by a wonderful group of people, guitarists of all ages and abilities who came together from all over the UK to form what is officially Britain’s biggest guitar band.
“We hold the UK record for the biggest guitar band, some 3,000 who gathered here in 2014 to accompany Ian Gillan on Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke On The Water’, but Poland holds the world record with over 7,000 players.
“It would be great if this last year in Lyme we could beat the Poles but it doesn’t matter if we don’t and frankly we’re not going to even try. What matters is that we all go out playing rock and roll in defiance of all of those who don’t approve of supporting having fun on a beach.”
Details of the JustGiving funding drive will be announced shortly on social media.
For more information and background on Guitars On The Beach, or to join Britain’s biggest guitar band, see its Facebook page or go to www.guitarsonthebeach.com