Eighty-two-year-old grandfather John Hetlinger’s full-throttle performance of Drowning Pool‘s “Bodies” on Tuesday night’s America’s Got Talent was so hard-core, the band wants him to do it again with them.
“I would love to have him come out onstage and sing a song with us,” Drowning Pool guitarist C.J. Pierce tells Billboard. “We invite a lot of people on the stage. That song has been great for us. It’s such a fun song to play. We had a guest onstage with us last week, Aidan Fisher; he is 13 years old and plays guitar. He was amazing, so we had him up to play ‘Bodies.’ So I would love to have John up there singing a song with us.”
The fact that “Bodies” is universally loved by metal heads of all ages makes Pierce smile. “I didn’t realize our demographic is from 8-year-olds to 82-year-olds,” he said. “That’s killer.”
Drowning Pool is currently heading out on the road to support their latest album, Hellelujah. The band is playing festivals this summer with dates overseas that include Australia and possible fall dates in Europe, so there are plenty of opportunities for Hetlinger to hit the stage. The ideal show, Pierce said, is the Open Air Festival in Chicago, taking place July 15-17. “We are going to get him onstage and get that on video. I want to get him on a big show,” he said. “The Open Air Festival in Chicago would probably be a good one for him to be on. We’ll work it out.”
Prior to Hetlinger’s audition, the cameras showed footage of him discussing singers like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra with another contestant, so Pierce — like so many in the audience — was shocked when he launched into their song. “I sent [the video] to my grandfather, who is 94 years old, and I said, ‘You are more than welcome to come onstage with us anytime you want to sing,'” Pierce says. “But that’s not his style of music.”
Instead, Pierce is hatching a plan to have the retired aerospace engineer and Navy pilot (who also helped repair the Hubble Telescope) snatched up in a van like in the 2003 movie Old School. “We are going to find him. We got friends in Colorado and Denver [who said], ‘We’ll go track him down, we’ll go pick him up.’ I told them to go pick him up like in that movie Old School where they pulled up in that black van blaring Metallica and they grabbed Blue,” he laughs. “I think they should go pull up with Metallica blasting and go pick up John and bring him to the airport and we’ll go do a show.
“John’s our boy, Blue!” he laughed, paraphrasing a quote from the movie. “When I see him, that is going to be his nickname now!”
Pierce has more planned for Hetlinger, he said. “He seems like a great guy, and all of the stuff he has done in his career,” he said. “I’m all about space and aliens. I’m sure he knows some stories being a Navy pilot. We got to get him a couple of drinks and get him to open up one of those X-files.”
That said, Pierce is thrilled for the octogenarian’s second career in entertainment. “I’m happy for him,” he said. “Good for him, and a big thanks to him for doing our song.”
Watch Hetlinger’s full audition (with hysterical reactions from judges Simon Cowell, Mel. B, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel) below: