On Sunday 15th July 2012 about 850 drummers from across the United Kingdom gathered in Manchester to take part in Stick it to MS 2012, an event to break the world record for the number of drummers drumming simultaneously and to raise money and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis.
Organised by Rick and Karen Prince, they previously ran the event in 2009 when over 500 drummers took part and set the old record. This year they hoped to smash that record!
My connection with the event
My involvement with the event started in 2010 when my good friend Oliver Barnes at Wilson Digital asked me if I was interested in building a web site for the event. As this was a good cause, and the subject matter was a favourite of mine, I gladly said yes and so donated my time free of charge.
After a few conversations with Rick about what he needed I set to work and built up the Stick it to MS web site to allow him to post information about the event, plus (very importantly) the ability for participants to register online, and to help co-ordinate all the data needed to make the event possible. I used the ExpressionEngine Content Management System for the site, mainly because it can be easily adapted for anything you might want a site to do.
I have to say at the time I never realised what I did for the event could have had such an impact!
We arrived at the “Event City” venue mid morning by which time several hundred drummers were set up and practising and creating a random wall of sound. All morning there was a constant stream of people unloading cars/vans and shuttling drum kit into the hall, setting up and adding to the wall of sound - let me tell you, it was loud, very loud!
Soon after mid-day things started to get organised and a visual 5 minute metronome was displayed on the three large screens so all the drummers could follow it (see the metronome at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0xvMXIvHL8 ). For those of us not drumming that was somewhat of a relief, instead of a barrage we could now hear something that resembled a proper beat!
Throughout the afternoon the metronome was repeated every 15 minutes or so, allowing the drummers to get familiar with it, and in-between there was “quiet time” so everyone could rest their ears (even though some drummers couldn’t help themselves and didn’t shut up!).
The Marshall band performed a few songs, with some guest artists, to which everyone could drum along to for fun. I did feel sorry for the guitarists and singer who were totally drowned out by over 800 drummers!
Breaking the record
At just before 4pm the organisers ushered all the drummers together for a pep talk before the world record attempt, then it was everyone back to their drums to go for it. Marshalls in yellow jackets took their positions to monitor that things were all above board for the record to be recorded properly.
Before the attempt there was one final practice with the metronome which went off perfectly, everyone in time - it sounded great. Then the first 5 minute run at the record started and seemed to go without a hitch. It was close, now they just had to do it once more without the metronome The second run went just as well, some moments passed and the announcement was made that a new world record had been set!
Short video from the final 5 minute run, confirming the new world record.
The event raised around £60,000 (about $90,000) for The MS Society and will go towards helping the 100,000 people in the UK affected by it. You can still donate at http://www.justgiving.com/stickittoms2012 and find out more about MS at http://www.mssociety.org.uk/