John Mayer once bumped into a fan at a music store, and ended up buying her the guitar of her dreams

John Mayer (left) and Julie Fermin
(Image credit: Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images / Julie Fermin/Twitter)

It’s an unfortunate fact that many people will navigate their way through life without receiving the opportunity to meet their six-string heroes. For most people, merely attending gigs and concerts is the closest they’ll get to some of the biggest names in the guitar world.

Meanwhile, a handful of others are blessed with good fortune, and may in fact cross paths with electric guitar stars at the most unlikely places. A chance encounter at the local coffee shop, perhaps, or a fleeting exchange on the subway.

There are a tiny minority, though, that get the opportunity to have prolonged, meaningful interactions with such stars, and even fewer that come away having had a genuinely once-in-a-lifetime experience.

That’s exactly what happened for one budding guitarist back in 2013, when she went to a popular guitar shop in New York – and ended up meeting none other than John Mayer.

What’s more, Mayer was so inspired by the aspiring artist’s enthusiasm, he decided to secretly buy her the guitar of her dreams. 

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Back in July 2013 – when he was on the brink of releasing his sixth studio album, Paradise Valley – Mayer ventured into Rudy’s Music Shop with his then-partner Katy Perry, presumably to peruse the six-strings the Soho store had to offer.

Also in the store was one Julie Fermin, a 16-year-old aspiring guitar player who had spied a particularly enticing Epiphone acoustic guitar. Enticing, that is, except for the price tag, which was outside of her budget.

Naturally, once she and her friends learned that Mayer and Perry were also in the store, the guitar was forgotten and the star-struck young fans approached the two music titans.

According to US Weekly, after the pair had dutifully posed for pictures, Mayer asked the group if any of them played the guitar. Fermin, who had been playing since she was 11, said that she did.

When asked by Mayer which guitar in the store was her favorite, Fermin escorted him to the Epiphone acoustic, which looked to be an Epiphone EL-00 Pro. 

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“I showed him, and he went over and checked the guitar’s price,” she recalled at the time. “I said, ‘Yup, I can’t afford it,’ and he said, ‘Oh, stop it!’”

As the conversation came to a natural conclusion, Mayer and Perry then left the store, leaving the group of friends overjoyed at the interaction that had just taken place. However, there was still one extra surprise coming their way.

According to Fermin, a store employee approached her and said, “Well, you should get more excited, because John Mayer just bought you that guitar.”

“I was so shocked,” Fermin told US Weekly. “I started crying and screaming. I cannot describe all the emotions I felt at that moment. I just knew I was the luckiest and happiest person alive.”

As it turns out, Mayer had paid for the guitar on his way out, but had asked the shop’s manager Gordon French to keep the purchase a secret until he and Perry had made their exit.

Understandably, the entire experience was almost too much to process. In a series of excitable, borderline-incoherent tweets, Fermin voiced her appreciation for Mayer, and expressed her disbelief at the fact that she now had an EL-00 Pro of her very own.

"I never in my life thought I'd meet and get to talk to Katy Perry and John Mayer," Fermin wrote. "I literally thought it was impossible. Forever mind blown."

There’s no word on whether Fermin is still playing guitar, but even if she did hang up her acoustic and pack away her guitar picks a few years after the event, we imagine the Epiphone is still in her possession. 

It is, after all, perhaps one of the best mementos someone could receive from a chance encounter with a hero.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.