82-year-old retired Navy pilot, John Hetlinger, became an overnight superstar when a video of him performing Drowning Pool’s “Let the bodies hit the floor” on “America’s Got Talent” went viral. Hetlinger’s rendition of the hit heavy metal song was so well received that the band extended an invitation for Hetlinger to join them on stage. Hetlinger took them up on their offer and joined them on stage at the Chicago Open Air festival on Friday, July 15, to the delight of nearly 2,500 metal-heads.
Hetlinger has lived an long and successful life. Despite serving in the Navy, becoming a minister, and working on the Hubble telescope as an aerospace engineer Hetlinger has described his appearance on “America’s Got Talent” as a highlight of his life and his many careers. See the performance that kick started his “music career” below:
This performance caused a viral sensation that eventually drew the attention of Drowning Pool’s guitarist CJ Pierce. Pierce was bombarded by calls and texts from friends and family informing him of a “radical old dude” that performed the band’s hit on national television. Pierce quickly ran to his computer to view the footage and, after watching, instantly knew they needed to have Hetlinger join them on stage. Pierce told reporters:
“I picked up my phone and I got a handful of texts from a number of people because I guess it got out yesterday ahead of the airing… I watched it, and man, I am so entertained by it. It’s awesome to just see an 82-year-old man get out there and just belt out some metal — whether it was our song or any song, it was just killer to see him do that.”
After a short period of correspondence Hetlinger graciously accepted the band’s invitation. A few weeks later Hetlinger found himself onstage in front of nearly 2.5 thousand people chanting “Bodies! Bodies! Bodies!” What happened next can be described as nothing short of incredible.
Hetlinger has been enjoying his short fifteen minutes of fame. His wife, Marcy, stated that he has been enjoying the attention the song has brought him. John spoke of joining the band on stage, telling reporters:
“I didn’t know two and a half thousand in the audience would react the same way that 30 drunks in the bar do, but they did!”
John has been taking the praise and criticism in stride. Some heavy metal magazines have criticized the 82-year-olds singing ability stating “he doesn’t sing very well.” Hetlinger has stated that he agrees with them while sporting a devious smile. He plans to return to singing karaoke once his fame blows over.