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Chris Rea: “I wrote ‘On the Beach’ in Formentera”

Balearic Classics
Chris Rea ‘On The Beach/Josephine’

Yes, this is the actual guitar used to compose On The Beach, and yes, that is Formentera. 

Why did you go to Formentera in the 80s? 

We first went to Ibiza, but started hearing about this island. We were told it was where they made the movie ‘South Pacific’ and where they filmed ‘Vedra’ (in the movie they called it Balihi). There was a harbour cafe where the super cool people waited for the little ferry boat. It was divine.

Did Formentera inspire you?

We became virtually full time residents saving all our money till we had enough to do the summer. You could almost feel eternity there. We hung out at ‘Se Qui’, a bar looking across to the harbour and Es Vedra: the best sunset ever by a long way. That’s what became ‘On The Beach’. We both grew up there. Carlos, who was Argentinian, got my first gold disc and it was on the wall for many years. 

“You can almost feel eternity in Formentera. It is a very deep and special place.” 

‘On The Beach’ was not only a worldwide hit, it also became a Balearic classic. Did you know about this?

Funnily enough, we started getting some strange people coming to concerts that weren’t the usual type we were getting at the time who adored this – and in particular my song ‘Josephine’. I had done a dance mix myself for a bet with a guy at Warner’s in Paris and it found it’s way back to Ibiza with Paul Oakenfold.

Have you ever returned to Formentera?

It will always be a very deep and special place. Late, hot afternoons and that strange timelessness. We went back only last year. The little ferry was replaced by a ship and there was a lot of cars, but I got up early went to La Mola and re-baptised myself…nearly thinking I was young again…