The woman known as “Grandma Drummer” has become a viral star thanks to her unexpected drumming skills but it turns out the woman behind the YouTube video that’s been viewed over two million times is not even a grandmother.
“She’s not married, not a grandma and doesn’t have kids,” Dustin Hackworth, the manager of Coalition Drum Shop, told ABCNews.com of Mary Hvizda.
What Hvizda, 63, of La Crosse, Wis., does have is a past life as a drummer for locally popular bands that then gave way to a more routine life as a newspaper deliverywoman.
Hvizda’s star began to shine again when the Coalition Drum Shop opened in La Crosse one year ago and Hvizda appeared every few months to ask to play the drums for 10 minutes at a time.
“She was like the phantom drummer,” Hackworth said. “She would just sit down and ask if we’d let her play a bit, play and then leave and we didn’t know anything about her.”
Every time Hvizda left the store, Hackworth and his colleagues would say that they had to capture her drumming skills on video.
Hackworth finally got the chance when Hvizda came to the store on July 5 and agreed to let him record her.
“I wasn’t sure how she was going to react but she saw me doing it and started twirling her sticks around and playing,” said Hackworth, noting she played the same song she always does, “Wipeout.”
Hackworth uploaded the video to the store’s YouTube channel last week and, faster than you can say “grandma,” the video, of Hzvida in her pink shirt, glasses and gray hair slamming it out, was viewed nearly 2.5 million times.
Even though Hackworth finally had Hzvida on camera, he still did not know her full identity.
It was only when the local newspaper caught wind of the YouTube video, reached out to the Coalition Drum Shop and printed a story on Hzvida that her full identity was revealed.
“She’s a newspaper delivery person and she saw her face on the front page and called us and said, ‘This is who I am,” said Hackworth.
Hzvida, who could not be reached today by ABCNews.com, told WKBT in La Crosse that she was inspired by her brother to start playing the drums at age 15 and went on to play for the Chantells, the first all-female rock band in La Crosse.
She gave up her drum dreams around 1990, however, when her band at the time broke up.
“I couldn’t find no other bands to play with, and then I did quit,” Hvizda told WKBT.
Hvizda’s drum story now has a happy ending thanks to the publicity generated by her jams at the Coalition Drum Store. The shop has purchased an electronic drum set for Hvizda, who hasn’t had a set of her own in 20 years, and plans to deliver it to her apartment today.
“She was definitely a special case,” Hackworth said of the shop allowing her to come in and play. “We normally aren’t as open to it as we are with her but she was so nice and sweet about it.”