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Air guitar legends strike a chord

OULU, Finland (CNN) -- Proving once and for all it's no game for airheads -- or headbangers -- the world's top non-musical guitar maestroes have been showing their mettle.

The 7th annual world air guitar championships have taken place in Oulu, Finland, proving you don't have to be able to play a note to be a world rock star.

Top bands like Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and the Grateful Dead have long inspired their fans to a frenzy of imaginary guitar strumming.

But this, as they say, was the real thing -- before a live audience of 3,000, mostly Finnish -- as air guitar came out of teenagers' bedrooms and onto the world stage.

British hope Zac "Mr Magnet" Munro -- something of a air rock wrinkly at 32 -- won for the second year running.

The simple performance of the "mild-mannered London architect" to the tune of "Fell in Love With a Girl" by The White Stripes went down well with the jury late on Friday.

"I like the improvisation, living the moment, and this year's winner did just that," jury head Juha Torvinen told Reuters.

"Magnet's" back-to-back win was the first-ever for the event.

In April this year he had said: "I'm determined to become the first air guitarist in history to win the World Championship twice, and then I can retire."

After retaining his crown he told Reuters: "There is that moment on stage when all the adrenaline has gone through and you are left there with absolutely nothing, just you and an audience, and your air guitar."

According to the organisers, competition was "extreme to say the least" as competitors from the U.S., Canada, UK, Austria, Norway, Finland, New Zealand and Australia "strived to take out the prestigious title."

Second place was a tie between New Zealand's Toby "The Tobanator" Peneha, and, Canada's Andrew "Air Raid" Buckles. As conciliation "The Tobanator" took the "audience favourite" vote, conducted by SMS message during the contest.

In the finals the contestants played two rounds -- one of their own choice of songs, the second a compulsory round which was this year "Last Nite" by The Strokes.

The event was Webcast live on the Internet.

After the dramatic final the air guitarists invited the whole world to play the air guitar together to Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World."

Explained the organisers: "The air guitar philosophy is that all the bad things in the world will vanish, if everybody in the world plays the air guitar."

The art of air guitar is traced back to the 1960s when breathtaking electric guitar solos by bands such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin inspired teenagers throughout the world grab their tennis rackets and mime their idols.

"One should not be ashamed of playing air guitar. Everyone did it at some point," Torvinen said.

The first air guitar championship was held in Oulu in 1996. Soon national championships sprang up around the world.

The prize, somewhat incongruously, is a real electric guitar -- a 2500 euro ($2500) handmade "Flying Finn."

Finland has something of a reputation for staging unusual competitions, In summer the nation also plays host to wife-carrying and mosquito-killing contests.


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