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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 May 2007, 18:47 GMT 19:47 UK
Poles aim for mass guitar record
By Rafal Motriuk
BBC News, Wroclaw

A group of guitar players
Young and old took part in their rendition of the Jimi Hendrix classic
Almost 2,000 musicians have gathered in the Polish city of Wroclaw to play a rock anthem by Jimi Hendrix.

The guitarists were aiming to set a new Guinness World Record by gathering 1,876 guitarists in the city's market square to play Hey Joe.

Organisers say it was the biggest guitar ensemble in recorded history, though Guinness has not yet officially confirmed the feat.

A statement confirming the number will be sent to Guinness World Records.

Soul power

The event brought together young musicians and rock veterans, both local and from hundreds of kilometres away.

"With the power of soul anything is possible," said the gig's organiser, Polish blues guitarist Leszek Cichonski.

Mr Cichonski is also the leader of an impromptu band called The Magnificent Seven.

"This is what Jimi Hendrix claimed 30 years ago, but it is still true," he added.

Zbyszek, a 14-year-old Metallica fan, brought his slick, state-of-the-art guitar.

"I'm a beginner, I've been playing for only three months now," he said.

"But Hey Joe is based on five chords only so I had no problems keeping up with the others."

The city's mayor, Rafal Dutkiewicz, was among the participants.

Thanks Jimi

The gig was part of a larger "Thanks Jimi Festival", celebrating guitar music.

The city's mayor takes part
Even the city's mayor is a Jimi Hendrix fan

Several bands played blues standards and rock hits by Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Bob Dylan as well as their own compositions.

Presenting their virtuoso skills, they also performed a rock version of "Ode to Joy" by Ludwig van Beethoven, the anthem of united Europe.

Tuesday marks the third anniversary of Poland's membership of the European Union.

To mark this occasion, the musicians marched around market square.

Before 1989, during communist rule, people were forced to take part in staged, Soviet-style parades to greet the party leaders on Workers' Day, 1 May each year.

Many were persecuted or harassed for not joining in.

The organisers say the Thanks Jimi Festival, held for the fifth time this year, will keep growing.

Next year, they want to invite more guitarists in many parts of the world to play together; the event would be broadcast online and shown on video screens.

A number of cities, including New York, are said to have expressed their interest.

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