Texas heavy rockers DROWNING POOL recently surged to viral status after 82-year-old Navy veteran and aerospace manager John Hetlinger performed his favorite karaoke track — DROWNING POOL's hit song "Bodies" — on the popular NBC competition show "America's Got Talent", surprising and charming viewers everywhere. Video of the performance instantly went viral, with over seven million views in the first two weeks... and counting.
Shortly after the outpouring of attention, DROWNING POOL guitarist CJ Pierce sat down for a chat with Entertainment Weekly, inviting Hetlinger to perform with them during their upcoming set at the Chicago Open Air festival. Hetlinger replied on Twitter accepting the invitation, and the rest is history!
Hetlinger will join DROWNING POOL onstage at Chicago Open Air during their 2:00 p.m. set on Friday, July 15.
Hetlinger states: "I am really amped up to see y'all when DROWNING POOL and I join you in Chicago this Friday afternoon for the Chicago Open Air festival. We are going to have a blast together — let the bodies hit the floor!"
Hetlinger told KUSA that he was surprised by the reaction to his "America's Got Talent" performance.
"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!" he said.
"Everybody seems to think it's great that an old man is screaming 'let the bodies hit the floor!'" John added.
Hetlinger, who was a Navy pilot, later a minister and then an aerospace engineer for Ball Aerospace in Boulder where he worked on a team that made repairs to the Hubble telescope, said that he is not bothered by any of the criticism of his performance.
"There are reviews in all the heavy metal magazines and all over the world, but they include statements like, 'Well, admittedly he doesn't sing very well,'" John said with a laugh.
John, who also has ROB ZOMBIE's "Dragula" in his repertoire, got hooked on karaoke after singing during talent shows on cruise ships in the '90s.
"He likes attention," John's wife, Marcy, said. "He's the youngest of five kids."
Pierce said he first heard about Hetlinger's performance when family and friends starting texting him about it, explaining: "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."
Pierce adding jokingly about DROWNING POOL's history of changing singers, "You know, we've had a revolving door, but Jasen Moreno is our man right now. But if he doesn't work out, we always know we've got John on the backburner."
"Bodies" was DROWNING POOL's first big hit back in 2001, when it appeared on the band's debut album "Sinner". The band's original singer, Dave Williams, died that August of heart disease.
Despite being a huge rock radio smash, it was removed from radio playlists for a while later that year in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
DROWNING POOL's sixth studio album, "Hellelujah", came out earlier this year and features the singles "By The Blood" and "Hell To Pay".