On Friday, May 1, 2009, 6,346 guitar players joined together at the "Thanks Jimi Festival" in Poland to play the JIMI HENDRIX hit "Hey Joe", more than tripling the standing record for "Largest Guitar Ensemble" of 2,052 set last year in Concord, California. The event took place in the historic center of Wroclaw, Poland (formerly Breslau) — a city which has taken on the title of "Wroclaw Guitar City" — a title that seems merited. In fact the mayor, Rafa Dutkiewicz, was among those playing, as was DEEP PURPLE guitarist Steve Morse and festival founder and director, Leszek Cichoñski. Cichoñski is a well-known musician and music educator in Poland and the festival was an outgrowth of one of his educational programs and has taken place — and grown — annually since 2003.
Online and in coordinated events in Sweden, the U.S., Canada and Australia (though those do not count toward the record). One of the objectives of the organizers was to establish May 1 as "World Guitar Day" and more coordinated simultaneous events are planed for next year and beyond.
On May 10, Germany will make an attempt at breaking the record in the city of Mainz.
Commented Steve Morse: "I played onstage at a town square, for the Guiness Book Of World Records. The most guitar players playing 'Smoke On the Water'. For sure, if they don't get the world's record, something is seriously wrong, because there were 6,000 people in front of us, with guitars, playing it! At the end of the song, they all held up their guitars, mostly acoustic, and it looked like we were in a forest. Nothing but guitars for as far as you could see. We also played 'Hey Joe', which Stan sang, and everybody played along with that one. Last year, they had 1,800 plus people playing along with that song. In the middle of the song today, they brought the volume way down, and you could only hear the background singers and the thousands of acoustics playing C, G, D, A, E... After that, I don't know how the gig could be any more intense. But, it was. The crowd was totally into everything, and when they sang along on 'Smoke', it was the loudest ever. A lot of them were at the town square earlier, and they knew it for sure! Fantastic crowd."