A big battle over the best guitarist in the country will be taking place this coming weekend in Los Angeles. But there will be no future Eric Claptons competing, as contestants play an instrument that is a little bit different.
Their guitars are purely part of their imaginations -- they play air guitars. The Early Show correspondent Melinda Murphy was recruited to compete in the East Coast finals.
The competitive air guitar insanity started in Finland 8 years ago.
"The guys in Finland have an ideology that's basically about world peace," said event organizer Cedric Devitt. "If everybody in the whole world picked up an air guitar, they wouldn't be able to pick up a gun."
Who knew air guitar was so serious?
"Air guitar has been an important part of my life since I was about 13 years old," said John "Johnny Rocket" Filton. "And I feel like this was a great opportunity to really legitimize a serious art form."
Murphy says she thought air guitaring was just kids playing an imaginary instrument in their bedrooms, which is the case for some folks.
"Basically [I] was pushed into [air guitaring] by some friends," said Julie "Super Julie" Shuck. "And here I am."
Murphy had never played the air guitar at home, and she needed a little help. Erika Szanto, Michael Smith and David "C. Diddy" Jung gave her some tips, but their jumps and turns may have been a little too advanced for Murphy.
Jung stared practicing playing the air guitar at the age of 5, after failing miserably at real instruments.
"That desire to be able to play an instrument with my imagination gave birth to the air guitar — coupled with puberty and heavy metal," he said.
Hundreds of competitors chose their songs carefully.
"The last 60 seconds of 'Shoot to Thrill' has four distinct pieces, four distinct components where I could play four different styles of guitar," said contestant Paul "Paulie" Legs.
Legs knew his music, but the judges were looking for a bit more.
"I want to see someone who can make me feel like I'm at a rock concert, watching the show," said judge Gavin McInnis.
Each air guitarist performed for one minute. For some, the minute flew by. For others, it seemed more like hours.
In the end, Jung took home first prize, and he had some groupies to celebrate with — just like a real rock star.
"Well, like I said before, I am the greatest," said Jung. "I have air supremacy."
How did Murphy do?
She actually got booed off the stage. And to make matters worse, the judges thought the boos were justified.
But, Murphy says, she has a new found respect for air guitarists who put in a lot of work to achieve the right moves. The winner of the national finals will go to Finland to compete in the world event.
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