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1,680 guitarists join in world record attempt

Full Story & Pics Courtesy of

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – More than 1,680 guitar players turned out, tuned up and took part in what organizers say was a world record rendition of a song that was the first many of them ever learned.

The pickers, ranging from kindergartners to folks who were playing music long before a Cleveland disc jockey coined term “rock and roll” in 1951, played Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” a little after noon Sunday at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.

Some came from as far away as California and Germany to take part in a Kansas City radio station’s effort to break a Guinness world record for the most people playing the same song simultaneously. The record had been 1,323 people playing a song in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1994.

“It was cool to see little kids playing, people who had been playing for their whole lives, like older people, and then I’m sure there were people like me who just picked up the song a couple days before,” said Autumn McPherson of Winfield, a senior at the University of Kansas.

Preliminary numbers show 1,683 people played the popular early ’70s guitar riff on Sunday.

“I thought it was going to be kind of cheesy,” said Hannah Koch of Prairie Village, who came clad in an elf costume. “But after I got here, I got caught up in the excitement of it.”

Tanna Guthrie, a morning show host for KYYS (99.7 FM), came up with the idea for the record attempt. She said her station will send participant sign-up lists, photos, videos and copies of media coverage to Guinness seeking official recognition of a record.

Guthrie said she chose “Smoke on the Water,” a track off Deep Purple’s “Machine Head” album, because it’s one of the first songs many guitarists learn.

“You never know if you can pull something like this off,” she said.

Autographs from fellow guitarists
One of the participants, John Cardona of Hanford, Calif., said he brought felt-tip pens so he could get others to sign his guitar.

“It was the guitar I learned on,” the 41-year-old said. “It was very dispensable on the way here, but very valuable to me now.”

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Tony Garcia, 40, of Lee’s Summit said he wanted to help break a world record to show his appreciation for the radio station.

“They were my baby sitter when I was growing up,” he said. “It was through their station that I became the music fanatic I am today.”

For Hunter Sprong, 11, of Kansas City, Kan., his participation in the event gives him something to tell his friends.

“I just went and broke a world’s record,” he said.

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