There is always an excuse to visit Lyme Regis, whether it’s to stroll along the High Wall or enjoy a drink in the Harbour Inn while absorbing your pleasant environs. But on Saturday 7 September 2013, there was an even better reason to visit and even though the autumn weather had arrived right on cue, in that oh so British seaside spirit I wasn’t going to let the weather stop me!
‘Guitars on the Beach’ was going to be the Guinness UK record attempt for 2,000+ guitarists to join together and play Buddy Holly’s Rave On.
I not only wanted to feel part of this grand endeavour but in my new spirit of ‘community’ I thought it only right to support something that must have taken a considerable amount of organising.
As I made my way along the esplanade, I felt the odd one out as most of crowd moving towards the beach had a guitar slung round their shoulders and I imagined this is what it was like during the 1960’s and 70’s at most public events. There was an affable and casually companionable feel about it all.
The beach was packed with hundreds of people, both young and old and there was no ‘this is my spot’ or tutting as someone sat close by, just plenty of very cheerful people enjoying the build up to the big event.
I took a walk along the harbour wall whilst preparations continued and delighted in that unique maritime musical sound of the straps and wires thwacking against the masts of the dinghies moored safely in the harbour. But this wind orchestrated noise was the precursor to what was coming over the hills straight for us.
I, rather foolishly, had walked to the end of the wall just in time for the skies to open with a grand finale, so by the time I walked back I was pretty much dripping. But then so was everyone else and it didn’t bother any of us!
However, the organiser did decide to go for the record attempt a little ahead of schedule and to start things off was a rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow sung by 6 year old Darcy. Quite remarkable and met by rapturous applause from the audience.
Then it was time for a bit of record breaking and everyone who had been protecting their stringed instrument from the weather by a number of different means (bin liners, jackets, blankets, even the odd guitar cover or two!) pulled them out with a flourish and joined in with Rave On.
It was wonderful. Everyone who had a guitar was playing and everyone else was jigging, bopping, dancing or jiving. Not one person had anything other than a big smile on their face (along with the raindrops) and the atmosphere was full to the brim with sheer pleasure.
They played the song once, then again with just as much enthusiasm.
After this all important song, there must have been a signal from the stage because everyone suddenly lifted their guitars in the air like some triumphant army who had, through the greatest of adversities (the weather) not only taken part, but had really been part of a Guinness UK Record attempt.
Yes it was chilly, yes it bucketed down with rain and yes I had to walk back to the car with wet sand stuck to my feet, but I’m very glad I went, not just because it reminded me once more how important and incredible the power of music can be and for a few minutes nothing else mattered other than the joy of the music and the atmosphere. But also I can say I was there, I was there when Lyme Regis broke the Guinness UK Record attempt because at last count they had 2,267 guitarists strumming Buddy Holly’s hit.