Ten years ago this summer, Mississippi played a major role in a musical milestone that eventually earned a spot in the prestigious Guinness Book of World Records.
The alternative rock band The Flaming Lips played a record-setting eight sold-out live shows in a 24-hour span to achieve a new mark in that category in the publication. The trek started in Memphis and ended in New Orleans, but over half of the shows took place on the hallowed musical grounds within the borders of The Magnolia State.
The band, led by gregarious frontman Wayne Coyne, traveled through eight cities meeting up with fellow artists and friends along the way including Jackson Browne, Grace Potter, Robert Randolph, Hunter Hayes and Gary Clark Jr., among others.
To be eligible for the record, the band had to play at least 20 minutes at each show before a capacity crowd of at least 200 or more.
The record-setting venture broke the previous mark set by rapper Jay-Z, who hit seven cities, including New York and Los Angeles, during a spree in November 2006. But Jay-Z used a jet on his tour, while the Flaming Lips went “old school” and used a vintage tour bus dubbed “The Voyager”.
The trek kicked off on Wednesday, June 27th 2012 at 6:30PM at Handy Park in Memphis and concluded just before the same time on the following day at the House of Blues in New Orleans. In between, the band and their entourage, which included four tour buses and seven Sprinter vans, also made stops at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, The Lyric in Oxford, Duling Hall in Jackson, Benny’s Boom Boom Room in Hattiesburg and The Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi as well as The Varsity in Baton Rouge.
The traveling festivities were streamed live as part of MTV’s third annual “O Music Awards”, with viewers able to choose between three cameras on board the Lips’ bus, each of the eight venues they performed in and behind-the-scenes in the control room. The shows helped the O Awards become MTV’s most-watched digital event ever at that point.
At the final stop, a celebratory “Mardi Gras” style parade led the band through the French Quarter to the venue for the last performance after which representatives from The Guinness Book of World Records presented the band with their award.
Coyne later termed the tour “an absurd joy” and “an incredible feat”.
“At five o’clock in the morning, you think if you’re lucky, you’re going to crawl in, and you’re barely going to be able to play, and you’re barely going to be able to sing and just hope, hope that you’re going to survive it,” he added. “Everywhere we’d go, [our fans] would give us energy. Everywhere we’d go, we’d walk away with more energy.”
But, alas, the Lips’ record lasted only a couple of years, as the aforementioned Hayes broke the record by doing 10 shows in 10 cities in a 24 hour span in 2014. But all of those shows were in the northeast and none down south or in Mississippi where the Lips achieved their claim to fame a decade ago.