John 5 (guitarist)

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"Careful with That Axe" redirects here. For the song, see Careful with That Axe, Eugene.
John 5
Background information
Birth name John William Lowery
Also known as John 5
Born (1971-07-31) July 31, 1971 (age 44)
Grosse Pointe, Michigan, United States
Genres Heavy metal, alternative metal, instrumental rock, industrial metal, bluegrass, country, flamenco
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1987–present
Labels Nothing, Interscope, Shrapnel, 60 Cycle Hum, Geffen
Associated acts David Lee Roth Band
Marilyn Manson
Rob Zombie
Red Square Black
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Meat Loaf
Notable instruments
John 5 Telecaster
John 5 electro acoustic
John 5 Triple Tele Deluxe
Squier J5 Telecaster Guitar

John William Lowery (born July 31, 1971), best known by the stage name John 5, is an American guitarist. His stage name was bestowed on him in 1998 when he left David Lee Roth and joined the industrial metal group Marilyn Manson as their guitarist, taking over from Zim Zum. Still going by the name "John 5", Lowery has since become the guitarist for Rob Zombie.

He is also a solo artist having recorded seven guitar albums: Vertigo (2004), Songs for Sanity (2005), The Devil Knows My Name (2007), Requiem (2008), The Art of Malice (2010) and God Told Me To (2012), Careful with that Axe (2014), as well as a remix album, Remixploitation (2009). He also works as a staff writer for Chrysalis Records, working with artists such as Matt Ball, Avril Lavigne, Rob Halford, k.d. lang, Garbage, Meat Loaf, Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne, Slash, FeFe Dobson and has written and recorded with southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Early life[edit]

Lowery was born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. He first started playing guitar at the age of seven after watching Buck Owens and Roy Clark's television show Hee Haw with his dad. His parents supported his playing as long as it did not interfere with his education. They also accompanied him at the adult bars he would play during the evening.[1][2]

His early musical influences came from The Monkees, Kiss, guitarists Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Jimi Hendrix, Yngwie Malmsteen and country music.[2]

Music career[edit]

Early career (1987–1995)[edit]

Lowery started his career as a session guitarist having moved to Los Angeles from Michigan at age 17. His first band in L.A. was Alligator Soup, which led to an important meeting with Rudy Sarzo from Whitesnake who recruited Lowery for his band Sun King giving him his first real bit of exposure. This also saw him meeting producer Bob Marlette, who has worked with, among others, Tracy Chapman, Alice Cooper, Rob Halford and Black Sabbath.

Lowery began working on numerous projects with Marlette including television show soundtracks, movie soundtracks including Speed 2: Cruise Control, and commercials and infomercials. This in turn saw Lowery being picked to play with Lita Ford, opening up for Kiss. He started another long time friendship with the various Kiss members, including a close friendship with Paul Stanley, which in 2006 he honored by guesting on Stanley's Live to Win album.

Lowery's next role saw him working with Randy Castillo, in the short-lived projects Bone Angels and Red Square Black, who issued the Square EP via Zoo/BMG. The band disbanded when Lowery was picked from 2000 guitarists to play with k.d. lang on tour.

2wo (1996–1998)[edit]

Main article: 2wo

In 1996, Lowery went for his first audition with Marilyn Manson but narrowly missed out, as he was late to the auditions, and the guitarist role was taken by Zim Zum. Lowery teamed up with ex-Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford, along with Sid Riggs (drums) James Wooley (keyboards), and Ray Riendeau (bass) to work on an industrial metal inspired album, under the band name of 2wo (Two). The subsequent album (Voyeurs) was remixed by Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and was released on Reznor's Nothing Records label, under the parent company Interscope Records (Universal). The album was not a commercial hit but did produce one video, made by gay porn director Chi Chi Larue for the first single "I am a Pig".[3] It featured some s&m scenes and so was not widely broadcast but was not banned as has been previously rumored. The band embarked on a world tour, and were part of the Ozzfest line-up but the tour was pulled and 2wo disbanded.

David Lee Roth (1998–2003)[edit]

Main article: David Lee Roth

Arguably, Lowery's first truly "big break" came when he was selected by former Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth to play lead guitar on the critically well-received[4][5] 1998 release DLR Band. As had occurred, historically, when Roth chose a new lead guitarist - in light of Roth's lead guitar lineage: from Eddie Van Halen to Steve Vai to Jason Becker to Steve Hunter and others - Lowery quickly gained public recognition for his virtuosic abilities, as well for the "heart" in his playing.

Regarding how he came to meet Roth, in Guitarist Magazine, Lowery relates that, "when I was little, my dream was to play with David Lee Roth. One day I was sitting at my friend's house and... I wonder[ed] what... Roth is doing now. [In 1997, Roth had just been let go from Van Halen for a second time in favor of Gary Cherone, and also penned a tongue-in-cheek memoir.]. I'm gonna call up his manager and see if he needs any songs."[6]

Lowery submitted six tracks that he had written to Roth's management. Having been a longtime fan of David Lee Roth's work, both in Van Halen and as a solo artist, Lowery believed that he knew exactly what Roth would like. On hearing Lowery's songs, Roth was very impressed, and subsequently asked for Lowery to submit several more songs. At the time, Roth was choosing between Lowery and Mike Hartman as to who would play lead guitar. Hartman would ultimately play bass on the album under the moniker, "B'urbon Bob". Tragically, Hartman would die a short time later.

Impressed by Lowery's prodigious skill, Roth scheduled a meeting and then - without haste - scheduled a recording session that lasted for a mere two weeks and resulted in the fourteen track DLR Band album. "I remember before we started, he [David Lee Roth] said, 'If you can't do it in two takes, you can't do it.'"[6] Roth's philosophy brought out the best in Lowery, whose guitar sounds particularly raw and excitable on the DLR Band album.

In 2003, while still lead guitarist for Marilyn Manson, Lowery (then called John 5) was invited by David Lee Roth to write and record the single non-cover song for Roth's 2003 album Diamond Dave.[7]

John 5 recently announced a new album with David Lee Roth, which he says will hopefully come out in the near future. More...

Marilyn Manson (1998–2004)[edit]

Main article: Marilyn Manson (band)

After the recording of Mechanical Animals, Marilyn Manson was again looking for a guitarist to replace Zim Zum who had been dismissed from the band during the recording process. Again John went to try out for the band. Following a tour with Rob Halford in Europe, John received a call from Manson's manager asking if he would like to meet Manson for lunch. At the meeting Manson asked John to join the band.[8] Taking the moniker John 5, he signed on for the Mechanical Animals tour and to work on the next album. Lowery's first live performance for Marilyn Manson came on the MTV Video Music Awards.

During the opening bars of the "The Beautiful People" at the 2003 Rock Am Ring festival Manson was prancing across the stage when he hit Lowery's guitar and chest with his boot. Lowery was outraged and threw his guitar while screaming at Manson, which led to much speculation. According to Lowery, the Grotesk Burlesk tour had been a high-pressure endeavour, and just weeks before he had suffered losses of very close family members. Lowery later commented on his behavior, calling it unprofessional and stating that there was no bad blood between Manson and him.

During this time period, Lowery also worked on a band called Plague with Jason Lowetz as the frontman. The album was produced with Bob Marlette but never made it out of the studio. Lowetz was considered for the job as frontman for Velvet Revolver before Scott Weiland took it on.

In 2004, Lowery and Manson parted company. Confusion was rife as certain press reported that he had been dumped unceremoniously from the band, but in reality the two came to a mutual agreement that they wanted to go their separate ways.“What actually happened was, at the end of the tour, we were just on different roads. It was completely amicable. He just wanted to write with other members of the band, and I wanted to do other things."[9] While working with Manson, Lowery stated he does not take drugs or drink alcohol.[10]

Loser (2005–2006)[edit]

Main article: Loser (band)

In 2005, Lowery formed the band Loser. Recruiting vocalist Joe Grah, Charles Lee on bass and Glendon Crain on drums, they began working on their debut album Just Like You. The band was also partly co-founded by friend and producer Bob Marlette. Vocalist Joe Grah already had a significant amount of success in his home state of Texas, with the band Jibe. Marlette recommended Grah to Lowery and so Lowery hopped on a plane to Texas to see the band play. Grah flew back to L.A. and was hired on the spot.

The name Loser came about as an affirmation to Lowery's past: “I was from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, which is kind of an upper-class area, and I was always that rock kid," John explained. "I started playing guitar at age 7. I always had a rock shirt on, and I had that tattoo early on. I looked like a loser because everyone around me was wearing Polo and Brooks Brothers. But now if you go into a club wearing Polo, you're called a loser. So I think everyone can relate to that name, and the album title, Just Like You, sums it up." [11]

The band had initial success not long after signing with Island Records, when the track "Disposable Sunshine" became part of the Fantastic Four soundtrack.

During this time, during the recording of the soundtrack, Crain briefly left the band and was replaced by drummer Elias Andra, a friend of Lee's. Andra had some success himself with the band Psycho Plague, his own creation, an industrial metal band, which toured as a headline act, with Linkin Park as an opening act at the time. However, Andra soon left after promotional shots had been taken, and Crain returned. Andra went on to become the drummer for Julien-K.

At the same time, Lowery was also working for Rob Zombie and a working conflict occurred. As Zombie was also touring, Lowery tried to find a live replacement for him while Loser were touring on conflicting dates. However, even with promo material for the debut album out and a release date in the bag, Island Record did not like the idea of Loser without John and so dropped the band from the label.

"Being the founding member of Loser, my decision to leave was not an easy one", said John 5 in a press release. "I've been juggling two careers both with Loser and Rob Zombie for over one year now. I found it impossible to be in two places at once."[12]

The album has been put on the backburner and no word on a release date has ever been issued. The official Loser Myspace page has tracks available for download (working on April 11, 2012).[13]

Rob Zombie (2005–present)[edit]

Main article: Rob Zombie
John 5 performing with Rob Zombie at Nova Rock 2014

While Lowery was working on radio rock band Loser, he also began to work with cult rock artist and movie director Rob Zombie. Meeting at the Camp Freddy benefit gig, Lowery and Zombie hit it off immediately and Rob asked Lowery to play for him for Ozzfest 2005. "I'm totally ecstatic about having the opportunity to play with Rob on Ozzfest! He has been one of my favorite artists for the longest time. I had the opportunity to play with him a few weeks back, and never thought that I would have the chance to share the stage with him playing the Zombie songs we all know and love!"[14]

It was reported that Zombie was looking to quit the music industry to concentrate on his movie career until he began to work with Lowery.

“Camp Freddy asked me to do this benefit, just to play one song, at the Arrowhead Pond (in Anaheim, California) for this tsunami relief thing. And John was there, and we played one song, 'Thunderkiss,' and it kicked ass and he's a supercool guy and I was like, 'this is perfect.' John said, 'Do you need a guitar player for Ozzfest?' I said, 'Yes.' He said, 'I wanna do it,' I said, 'Perfect, done.'" -Rob Zombie on John 5[15]

Lowery worked on Rob Zombie's 2006 album Educated Horses, co-writing eight out of eleven tracks with Zombie. When he left Loser, Lowery took up the role of Rob Zombie guitarist as a permanent gig. “Rob is the best I have worked with. He's great. We have a great time on stage together. It has been the single greatest experience I have had working with someone, hands down."[16][not in citation given] John is also the guitarist on Rob's latest albums, Hellbilly Deluxe 2, released February 2, 2010[17] and Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, released April 23, 2013.

In early 2011, Lowery was joined by fellow ex-Marilyn Manson bandmate, Ginger Fish, as a member of Rob Zombie's band. Zombie/Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison was in Europe with his band Murderdolls, leaving Zombie without a drummer for some shows during the American leg of their tour. Lowery asked Fish to fill in as drummer. In April 2011, Fish was announced as the new and permanent drummer.

In October 2011, Zombie confirmed by his Facebook [18] account that Lowery would be scoring the soundtrack for Rob Zombie's latest movie, The Lords of Salem. This was also confirmed on the official John 5 website.[19]

On April 17, 2014 Rob Zombie said in a radio interview that he was at work on a follow up to Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, which many assume will have John 5 recording the guitar parts, since he is a member of Rob Zombie's band [1]

(2004–present) Solo career[edit]

Starting in 2004 with Vertigo, Lowery has recorded seven instrumental records. His works have featured many guest players. For example, Songs for Sanity had Albert Lee, and other records have had Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and Jim Root. In 2009, John released a remix album, Remixploitation. Lowery has also released an instructional DVD entitled The Devil Knows My Name (2007). In July 2009, on his Twitter page, John 5 announced that he is now six tracks into the next solo album.[20] On October 2, 2009, he played with Slash at a tribute to the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.[21]

In a Twitter update January 6, 2010, John 5 had this to say about the progress of his upcoming 5th studio album; "Just did all the guitar, bass for my new solo CD, Tommy Clufetos played the drums and killed it!" [22] and a following Twitter update January 8; "Did the photo shoot for the new record today!",[23] January 18: "Just had Billy sheehan play on the the [sic] song (ya dig), this record is going to rule".[24]

In June 2011, John 5 officially closed his MySpace page.[25] John commented on his own website, "There are a number of reasons, mainly the decline of Myspace as a platform to reach you, the fans. ... So today, the steps were taken to close the account at the Myspace page."[25] He is one of the first notable artists to have taken this step in light of the decline of MySpace.

He often names his songs after famous murderers, e.g. Edward Gein ("Gein with Envy", Songs for Sanity,) Albert Fish ("Werewolf of Westeria", The Devil Knows My Name), or torture devices (see any song from Requiem).

In February 2014, while giving an interview at the Soundwave festival John 5 announced his seventh solo album entitled "Careful with That Axe", which would go on to be released in August of that year.[26]


During 2005, John 5 used Marshall amplifiers and cabinets, Boss pedals, Fender Telecaster and J5 guitars, and D'Addario strings.[27]

During his time spent as guitarist for Marilyn Manson, John 5 eventually resorted to storing some of his effects pedals backstage in rack drawers to safeguard them against the chaos that often ensued during performances.[28]





  • Just Like You (2006) Unreleased

Marilyn Manson[edit]


Rob Zombie[edit]

  • War Zone (2008)

Miscellaneous work[edit]

Red Square Black
David Lee Roth

Paul Stanley
Sebastian Bach
Beware of Darkness
  • Orthodox (2013, co-wrote "All Who Remain")



  1. ^ "Official Biography". Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  2. ^ a b "John 5 Interview". Guitarhoo!. September 4, 2005. Retrieved March 10, 2013. 
  3. ^ Feb 3 1998 12:00 PM EST (1998-02-03). "Halford enlists Chi Chi Larue". MTV. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  4. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine (1998-06-09). "DLR Band - David Lee Roth | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  5. ^ "The Daily Vault Music Reviews : DLR Band". 1998-08-14. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  6. ^ a b "Guitarist Magazine". Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  7. ^ Greg Prato (2003-07-08). "Diamond Dave - David Lee Roth | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  8. ^ "Guitar". Guitar 2009-10-20. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  9. ^ "John 5 says split with Manson was "amicable".". Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  10. ^ Wiederhorn, Jon (2004-04-06). "Fired Marilyn Manson Guitarist Wonders What Went Wrong". MTV News. Retrieved 2012-07-04. 
  11. ^ Wiederhorn, Jon (2006-04-07). "Ex-Manson guitarist John 5 proud to be a Loser.". MTV. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  12. ^ "Former Marilyn Manson guitarist John 5 leaves Loser to focus on Rob Zombie.". Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  13. ^ "Myspace Loser". Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  14. ^ "The Official Website". John 5. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  15. ^ "Rob Zombie talks to". Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  16. ^ Piggy D (2010-07-10). "Zombie Rob html". The Gauntlet. Retrieved 2015-11-29. 
  18. ^ "Rob Zombie Facebook". RobZombie. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  20. ^ john5guitarist. "John 5 Twitter working on new instrumental album.. about 6 songs in!". Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  21. ^ "Slash & Friends concert lineup released". The Rock Radio. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  22. ^ john5guitarist. "John 5 Twitter Just did all the guitar, bass for my new solo cd Tommy Clufetos...". Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
  23. ^ john5guitarist. "John 5 Twitter Did the photo shoot for the new record today!". Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  24. ^ john5guitarist. "John 5 Twitter Just had Billy sheehan play on the the song(ya dig) , this record is going to rule". Retrieved 2010-01-19. 
  25. ^ a b "» John 5 Myspace closes today John 5 Official Website". 2011-06-30. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  26. ^ "Interview: John 5 (Rob Zombie) at Soundwave Festival 2014 (Sydney, Australia)". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  27. ^ "John 5's 2005 Guitar Rig". Retrieved 2015-11-29. 
  28. ^ "john5". 2000-01-01. Archived from the original on September 4, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  29. ^ " - website". Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  30. ^ "". Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  31. ^ "The Castle – the new single from John 5 coming December 20". Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  32. ^ "Fantastic Four soundtrack on Amazon". Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  33. ^ "". Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  34. ^ "". Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  35. ^ "John 5 leaves Loser and Island, Blabbermouth". Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  36. ^ "Loser Official My Space Page". Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  37. ^ Harris, Chris (2007-11-30). "Richard Patrick MTV interview". Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  38. ^ "Lynyrd Skynyrd write with John 5, set album for 2009". 2008-08-26. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  39. ^ "MUSICA+ALMA+SEXO Album Credits". 2011-01-30. Retrieved 2011-02-10. 
  40. ^ "News - Sebastian Bach - John 5". Knac.Com. 2009-07-27. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  41. ^ "» Purchase Steve Adlers ‘Good to be Bad’ featuring John 5 [Watch John 5 in studio] John 5 Official Website". 2012-10-26. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  42. ^ "John 5 discusses new projects with Norman from Norman’s Rare Guitars". 2011-10-09. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 

External links[edit]