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GW Blog: Guinness Book of World Records Responds to Jack White Rant

In this month's edition of Interview magazine, Jack White sat down for a chat with astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

We'll let that sink in for a moment.

Still with us?

During the interview, White playfully hit out at the Guinness Book of World Records for not including his former band, the White Stripes, as having played the shortest concert of all time.

White explained, "We were in Newfoundland and the idea that I came up with at breakfast was, 'Let's play one note today'. I told Meg as we were getting out of the car. I said, 'Make sure you grab your cymbal and when you hit the cymbal, grab it so that the note only lasts a millisecond.'

"I was thinking that afterwards we could contact the Guinness World Records people and see if we could get the record for shortest concert of all time. So we did it, but ultimately they turned us down.

"The thing is, though, that the Guinness book is a very elitist organization. There's nothing scientific about what they do. They just have an office full of people who decide what a record is and what isn't. Most of the records in there - who has the biggest collection of salt-and-pepper shakers or whatever - are just whatever they want them to be.

"So with something like the shortest concert of all time, they didn't think whatever we did was interesting enough to make it a record. I don't know why they get to decide that, but, you know, they own the book."

Apparently once you score a number one album, the Guinness people are more than happy to clarify matters for you. And clarify they did.

"The White Stripes were in fact recognized in the 2009 Edition of the Guinness World Records book for the shortest music concert ever when, on July 16, 2007, they played just one note at St. John's in Newfoundland, Canada," they wrote. "Subsequent to this appearance we received a large volume of applications from bands and performers seeking to beat this record. The ultimate results of this was individuals claiming that simply appearing on stage was enough to qualify them for this record.

Guinness would add, "The nature of competing to make something the 'shortest' by its very nature trivializes the activity being carried out, and Guinness World Records has been forced to reject many claims of this kind. As such, we have been forced to cease listing records for the shortest song, shortest poem, and indeed the shortest concert."

Will Jack White respond? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, his new album, Blunderbuss, is out now. Pick it up on iTunes here (opens in new tab).

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Josh Hart is a former web producer and staff writer for Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado magazines (2010–2012). He has since pursued writing fiction under various pseudonyms while exploring the technical underpinnings of journalism, now serving as a senior software engineer for The Seattle Times.