Steve Vai leads 7,968 guitarists in a world record-breaking performance of Jimi Hendrix classic Hey Joe

Steve Vai performing Hey Joe in a world record guitar ensemble
(Image credit: Steve Vai / Instagram)

Steve Vai was on hand in Wrocław, Poland at the weekend to help break the record for the world’s largest performance of Jimi Hendrix classic, Hey Joe.

The record attempt took place on May 1 and formed the centerpiece of the town’s annual Thanks Jimi festival, which saw Wrocław’s historic Market Square dominated by nearly 8,000 guitar players.

Vai took to Instagram following the performance to mark the occasion. “Beautiful day in Wrocław breaking the world record for the most guitar players performing Hey Joe at the same time,” wrote the electric guitar virtuoso. “I think it was 7,968! It sounded like someone kicked a beehive! 

“It was glorious to see all those folks playing guitars and enjoying the event. Really quite amazing. Thanks to the festival for inviting me. We go on stage for our set soon. Poland knows how to have a good time!”

Fellow shred whiz Batio was also performing at the event and joined the record attempt. He later issued his own update, posting a view from the stage across the crowd and the square.

“We set a new world record yesterday in Wrocław, Poland!” wrote Batio. “The most Guitarists ever, playing a song at the same time. 7,967 Guitarists! It was a perfect day!”

Both guitarists have previously participated in record attempts at the Thanks Jimi festival. In 2014, Vai and Batio were two of a then-record-breaking 7,300 guitarists performing Hey Joe – a figure that’s been comfortably surpassed this year. 

The Thanks Jimi festival was founded in 2003 by Polish blues rock guitarist Leszek Cichoński and the record attempt has become part of its annual tradition – only pausing during 2020 and 2021 for the pandemic. 

The first attempt – 20 years ago now – saw a group of 588 players performing, and the event has continued to grow. Last year’s attempt featured a reported 7,676 guitarists.

Vai, meanwhile, seems to have been enjoying the chance to revisit Hendrix material over the last 12 months or so. In December, he collaborated with a Hendrix tribute act on a live performance of Midnight.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar,, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.