One of the biggest guitar stories of the summer concerned the tale of one John Wines – the unassuming guitar teacher whose epic America’s Got Talent audition went viral back in June.
Though he had amassed a significant social media following prior to his talent show audition – 1.3 million followers on TikTok under the handle @oldgreyguitarist, no less – it was the Brian May and Eddie Van Halen-channeling performance that skyrocketed the 59-year-old in front of new global audiences.
Well, Wines has now returned to the America’s Got Talent stage for the Qualifiers round, which saw a whole new instrumental routine and even more fretboard fireworks.
Announcing himself with the same Mick Mars-style dive bomb action via the Floyd Rose of his Charvel Pro-Mod DK24 HH FR M that preceded his audition, Wines launched into his qualifiers effort with an excerpt from The Star-Spangled Banner, before moving into this routine’s main riff: Dick Dale’s Misirlou.
Clearly set on outdoing his audition, Wines goes big on the technicality, rifling through one Eddie Van Halen-inspired two-hand tapping lick after another, all while flexing his alternate-picking skills, whammy bar command and rapid left-hand sleight of hand.
It was another triumphant performance from the guitar teacher, though it didn’t prove quite as popular with the one of the judges – while busying himself with some blistering licks, Wines got a (rather unwarranted) red buzzer from Simon Cowell (who probably just wanted to play devil’s advocate).
But Cowell was clearly the odd one out: fellow judge Howie Mendel said it was like watching “Old Man Halen”, while Heidi Klum called his performance “inshreddable”. High praise indeed for Wines, who is in for a strong shout of going all the way in the competition.
Speaking to Guitar World after his audition broke the internet, Wines went through his routine assembly process, saying it’s all about getting in “a little bit of everything” in the shortest time possible.
“I spent some time working it all out,” Wines said of his first effort. “I knew I had two minutes and spent time mapping out different sections, starting with the main melody for people to recognize but also throwing in stuff like tapping and other techniques.
“I wanted to get a little bit of everything in there and two minutes is not a lot of time. That’s how I approached it. I wanted to start with the motorbike thing à la Mick Mars and then go into the melody, breaking it all up and putting it back together in ways that felt fun.”
At the end of his Qualifier performance, Wines left the stage with a final word of advice to his students – and, by extension, all aspiring guitar players: “Practice. Anything is possible. Come and do this yourself, please.”