ROCK legend Ian Gillan has come to the aid of the Guitars On The Beach by kick-starting the fundraising for this year’s festival in Lyme Regis with a £1,000 donation.
The Deep Purple lead singer, who has a home near the town, has “astonished and delighted” organisers of the June 16th event with the generous donation towards the £6,000 cost of staging Britain’s largest guitar event.
It is the second time that Ian has come to the rescue of GOTB. In 2014, when cash-strapped organisers feared they would have to cancel the day-long visitor attraction for lack of funds, Ian saved the day with a large donation that enabled the GOTB team to hire the stage needed to put on the show.
He also volunteered to lead a huge assembly of some 3,000 guitarists of all ages and abilities on a beach performance of the Deep Purple classic ‘Smoke On The Water’, which set the UK record for the biggest band ever to play a song together.
Other local luminaries have also stepped up help GOTB go ahead this year. Author and entrepreneur Chris Barez-Brown, who lives in Uplyme, has made the opening bid of £500 in an auction which will see the highest bidder win a place in the house band at the traditional climax of GOTB, when the giant band on the sand performs the record bid songs.
And with a donation of another £500, long-time supporters Alison and Stuart Constable, owners of West Bay’s Snack Shack, have become the first of what organisers hope will be many local businesses to sponsor GOTB.
Gabby Rabbitts, the new director of the Marine Theatre, has also offered to host a special fundraising evening on April 14th, when the GOTB house band and other top local musicians will perform to what is expected to be a sell-out crowd.
Dennis Spacey, Axminster-based owner of the unique ‘Tukxi’ three-wheeler taxi, popular with visitors to Lyme, is also among the first GOTB sponsors.
“We are astonished and delighted by Ian Gillan’s big-hearted generosity, which came out of the blue,” said a GOTB spokesman.
“He truly is a local hero. This is the second time in GOTB’s history that Ian has helped save the day, we are enormously grateful that he has got our fund-raising off to such a fantastic start.
“We are also thrilled to have the generous help of Gabby, Chris and Dennis and the continued support of GOTB stalwarts Alison and Stuart at the Snack Shack. It is so uplifting for us that local businesses are getting behind GOTB and we hope that others will join them, as GOTB was created to attract visitors for the benefit of traders and businesses in the area.
“Our fundraiser at the Marine Theatre in April will be a night to remember, crammed with great local musicians, and we’ll rock the place.
“And with sponsor support like this already, we’ll be able to really rock the beach in June.”
This year GOTB will be staged as a massive salute to rock legends lost in 2017 – including Chuck Berry, Tom Petty and AC/DC’s Malcolm Young.
Organisers are aiming to gather more than 1,000 amateur guitarists on the beach at the Dorset resort to form an enormous “tribute” band to honour music megastars who died last year.
As a mark of respect to icons who influenced generations the huge band of guitarists will come together on the beach on June 16 to perform a set of the hits by those who changed the sound of music.
Among those guitarists who will be honoured when the very big band plays its heroes’ songs will be Chuck Berry, Malcolm Young, Glen Campbell and Tom Petty, along with tributes to guitar pioneers Buddy Holly and Rory Gallagher.
“We’re making Guitars On The Beach one big tribute show this year because without the influence of the genius guitarists whom we lost last year many of us would never have picked up the instrument in the first place,” said the spokesman.
“There will also be special tributes to Buddy Holly, to mark the 60th anniversary of the release of ‘Rave On’, and a big nod to another much-missed guitar legend, Rory Gallagher.
“We’ll be picking songs by these heroes that are easy to play along to so that both novice and accomplished guitarists can all join in the tribute and we are aiming to attract at least 1,000 people to perform together on the day.”
GOTB organisers are actively upping the ante in their fund-raising and sponsorship drive this year, determined to make this the best GOTB yet. Any businesses that would also like to sponsor the event or make donations should contact co-organiser Geoff Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org