John 5 doesn’t just play the guitar. His guitar is an extension of his soul and through it his music has become the Frankenstein birth penetrating the ear drums of fans and admirers worldwide. For John 5 the music is not just about playing, but living, breathing, feeling and passion.
His impressive resume has seen him work with some of the most renowned musicians in the industry and has cemented his name into the annals of rock history.
John 5 may have been underrated when he first began his solo career in 2004 but he should not be underestimated. His work is both extensive and eclectic. His range sees him fit into many different genres which makes him hard to label. He has however become one of the best shred guitarists of recent years and has won the admiration of artists such as Paul Gilbert, Bumblefoot, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani – to list but a few.
John 5 was born John Lowery, in Grosse Point Michigan. He started playing guitar at the age of seven, inspired by Saturday morning TV show Hee Haw: “I didn’t know any…musical genres. I was just in awe of the players”. His parents were supportive of his learning and permitted him to play in bars and clubs on the condition that he kept his grades up. Aged 18, John moved to California to pursue a career as a professional session guitarist. John began working on a number of projects for producer Bob Marlette, including TV shows, commercials and film soundtracks. This in turn saw a major break with Lita Ford, opening up with her in support of KISS. John then met Ozzy Osbourne drummer Randy Castillo and formed “Red Square Black”. However, RSB was a short-lived project after John was selected from 2000 guitarists to tour with KD Lang. In 1996, John narrowly missed out on an audition with Marilyn Manson following the departure of original guitarist Daisy Berkowitz. John teamed up with Rob Halford (Judas Priest) and formed industrial/classic rock band “2wo” (Two). John’s next project came in 1998 when he teamed up with ex Van Halen front man Dave Lee Roth. John wrote six tracks and submitted them to Roth’s manager. Familiar to the style Roth played John used this to help write “The DLR Band” album in the space of two weeks.
The Manson Years
In 1998 John was asked to lunch by Marilyn Manson: “…he asked me to join the band – right there”. The name John 5 bestowed on him that day, John joined Manson et al, for the Rock is Dead tour. Following the tragic events of April 1999, at Columbine High School, the group began work on “Holywood: In The Shadow of the Valley of Death”, an angry response to the media witch-hunt the band suffered, and was the first album John wrote on. During this time, John also continued working a session guitarist contributing works to several albums, including the Jimi Hendrix Tribute album “Hazy Days” and reuniting with Dave Lee Roth for the track “Thug Pop”. In 2003, John released his first custom guitar – The John Lowery Signature Fender Telecaster. Guitarist Magazine called it “the sexiest new signature guitar on the market”. 2003 also saw the release of Marilyn Manson’s The Golden Age of Grotesque.
In 2004, John 5 and Marilyn Manson parted company. “I had a great run with Marilyn Manson. It was a lot of fun [but now] I’m busier…than I was on tour”. Work began in earnest on Vertigo, a deeply autobiographical album pulled from turbulent personal memories on the last Manson tour. John also began working on a new “radio rock project” Loser, comprising the vocal talents of Joe Grah, formerly of Texas band Jibe. Added to that, John began working with cult rock artist and movie director, Rob Zombie. John joined Rob for 2005′s Ozzfest tour: “[I] never thought I would have the chance to share the stage with him playing the Zombie songs we all know and love”. In 2005 John released Songs For Sanity, a second solo album, grittier than the first: Guesting on the album were Steve Vai and Albert Lee. Work with Rob Zombie continued and John contributed to eight out of eleven tracks on 2006′s Educated Horses.
Rob Zombie – a new band and a new home
Due to conflicting commitments with Zombie and Loser, John had to make a hard decision: “Being the founding member of Loser, my decision to leave was not an easy one.” Touring continued with Zombie and John also contributed works to Meatloaf, Paul Stanley and FeFe Dobson. After touring for almost a year, John took time out to work on his third solo album. Devil Knows My Name saw contributions from Joe Satriani and Jim Root. It also won him an accolade for Best Shred Album from Guitarworld.com. Working with Hal Leonard and Piggy D, John 5 also released his first tuition DVD, a ground breaking instructional that mixed live lessons with horror movie inspired fillers. Sales flew through the roof. He also embarked on a Guitar Center tour of West Coast America. For John 5 this was best way to repay the fans for all their support and loyalty over the past four years. ‘You’ll notice the tour is also free, and this is also me paying back to the fans and saying thank you for the support, for buying the albums.’
The end? No – the future!
John 5 continues to branch out, coupling his solo career, with his work in Rob Zombie – which included touring for the first time outside of the USA in 2010. His solo albums, which up to 2011 included a remix album called Remixploitation, continue to break new moulds in solo instrumentalist work. John 5 also continues to work with other artists including work with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ricky Martin and Sebastian Bach. The future continues to be busy, work heavy but every part of the career John 5 loves to do.