Unassuming guitar teacher goes viral after channeling Brian May and Eddie Van Halen in epic America's Got Talent audition

Guitar teacher John Wines shreds during an audition for America's Got Talent
(Image credit: America's Got Talent/YouTube)

59-year-old John Wines isn't your average neighborhood guitar teacher.

Under the handle @oldgreyguitarist, Wines has built a remarkable following on Instagram and, in particular, TikTok, with a whopping 1.3 million followers on the latter platform.

It's an audience all but the most successful of our kind would envy, but it's nothing compared to the exposure Wines received from his most recent performance.

Though Wines resides in the UK's southern coast, he recently crossed the pond to audition for the 18th season of America's Got Talent

Armed with a Charvel Pro-Mod DK24 HH FR M electric guitar, Wines keeps his composure in front of the skeptical crowd and judges, and proceeds to dazzle them all.

The unassuming-looking instructor kicks things off with some impassioned whammy bar antics á la Mick Mars, before segueing into a decidedly up-tempo take on Queen's immortal stadium-pleaser, We Will Rock You, which is highlighted by some very tasty, Eddie Van Halen-inspired tapping, among other impressive technical displays.

It's not just the audience – likely hopped up on unfathomable amounts of studio-provided caffeine – that voice their approval, either. The show's judges have nothing but kind words for Wines, with Sofía Vergara calling the guitarist a “rock star.”

Even the ever-steely Simon Cowell admits, “I was not expecting that.”

An emotional Wines clearly soaks in the moment, calling the audition “the most nerve-wracking thing I've ever done.”

Nerves aside, Wines was voted unanimously on to the next round of the competition by its judges.

The guitarist's active TikTok account features tutorials and playthroughs covering a wide variety of classic rock, modern rock, and pop favorites, with a smattering of demos and gear reviews thrown in as well. 

Wines' star turn is the second guitar-centric competition TV show audition to go viral in as many months, after 11-year-old Harry Churchill wowed Britain's Got Talent (and Brian May) with an impassioned medley of May's guitar parts from the Queen catalog.

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.