By Ian Chainey

"Smoke on the Water"'s opening riff

Walk into any Guitar Center right now and chances are there will be someone mangling Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water." Next to "Stairway to Heaven" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit," few other riffs have been butchered so thoroughly, so often. Even with it playing in your head right now -- and it is in your head right now, you're welcome -- it's probably a skronking abortion of a cover that was delivered by someone with sausage fingers. You'd think Ian Gillan would never want to hear the song again outside of Ritchie Blackmore's hands. (As long as he's not nattering on about Beethoven, that is.) And that's where your wrong. Ian Gillan will sing "Smoke on the Water" in Lyme Regis, England on September 6, backed by at least 3,000 amateur guitarists.

3,000 amateur guitarists. Dear god.

The "spectacle" will occur during the Guitars On The Beach celebration, which is part local concert, part stunt to make the record books by asking anyone with a guitar to hit the sand and strum away. Last year, 2,267 guitarists played Buddy Holly's "Rave On." This year, the repertoire has been expanded by two additional songs: Status Quo's version of "Rocking All Over the World" and the aforementioned Deep Purple classic. When Gillan heard that the latter was getting done up, he reached out to the organizers.

I hear you might be doing "Smoke" with the massed guitars and if that is the case I thought I'd offer my services if you need a singer.

With Gillan on board, the sign-up has understandably skyrocketed and the previous record is looking like it will be broken. . .along with your brain. . .and your soul. Hopefully the event isn't overran by Blutos. Or, hey, it's all good clean fun.

A trailer for the 2013 version of the event -- which is kind of Broadchurch-y -- along with the worst "Smoke on the Water" covers YouTube has to offer appear below...


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