Jack White seems to be unsatisfied with the place in history he has attained through his work with the White Stripes, the Raconteurs, and a multitude of additional projects. Recently, the helium-voiced guitar slinger has avowed his intention to expand his legacy by entering the Guinness Book of World Records. First it was announced that he’d had a flap with the folks at Guinness over whether or not White played the world’s shortest concert, and then on May 18, he apparently got a Guinness official to turn up at the Gulf Shores, AL stop on White’s solo Blunderbuss tour to substantiate the rocker’s bid for employing the most metaphors in a single concert. Clearly this goal was harder to quantify, and there seemed to be an even greater element of cheekiness to the endeavor on White’s part. In the end, he was reportedly denied the Guinness stamp of approval, but in a statement on his website, White declared that he’d go for the record again at his next show. What will the next installment of the Jack White vs. Guinness saga bring? Is the whole thing an elaborate publicity stunt, or is White genuinely at odds with Guinness? While you’re waiting for the answers to these burning questions, here are some equally unexpected musical milestones that definitely did cut the mustard with the august organization allegedly responsible for dashing White’s dreams to bits.
1. Deepest Underwater Concert Ever
U.K. pop crooner Katie Melua, who preceded Adele as the holder of the British Norah Jones title (well, unofficially anyway), was welcomed into the Guinness fold for her 2006 performance on a gas rig in the North Sea at 994 feet below sea level. Medical testing and underwater survival training were apparently required of the hardy songstress before she made the plunge. Assertions that the event was part of Melua’s effort to prove her depth as an artist remain unconfirmed.
2. The Longest Concert Ever
At a Paris theater in 2009, electro-acoustic composer/producer Chilly Gonzales, renowned for his work with Feist and Peaches, played the piano for 27 hours straight, assuring his Guinness glory. In preparation for the mammoth undertaking, Gonzales consulted sleep specialists, acupuncturists, and nutritionists to help him stay awake longer, but it’s not known whether he was also advised to avoid listening to any Feist tracks.
3. Largest Guitar Ensemble
Just a few weeks ago, a fiery phalanx of axe-wielding Jimi Hendrix devotees at Wroclaw, Poland’s 10th annual Jimi Festival made history by becoming the biggest conglomeration of guitarists ever to perform together in public. 7,273 Hendrix-loving record-breakers gathered together to play the guitar hero’s classic “Hey Joe” en masse. The participants did not accept requests to follow the song with something by Sonic Youth.
4. Largest Kazoo Ensemble
Possibly motivated by an altruistic desire to make the aforementioned guitar army feel slightly less silly, 3,910 ambitious “musicians” gathered together in 2011 as the biggest batch of kazoo players ever assembled. As part of a BBC Radio 3-sponsored event, the kazooists put an entirely new slant on Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” and 1950s film theme “The Dambusters March.” All those who heard the ensemble can confirm that they really blew.
5. Loudest Band in the World
There’s been plenty of competition for this title over the years. After all, what self-respecting rockers wouldn’t want to be officially recognized as the world’s loudest band? At various points in rock & roll history, a number of heavy hitters have held the title, including Deep Purple, the Who, Motorhead, and Manowar The quietest of these, Deep Purple, was clocked at 117 dB back in 1972. For reference, the average jackhammer generates around 100 dB’s worth of noise.