John 5 is hands-down one of the best modern shredders working today, but to label him merely as a shredder (albeit a great one) is to miss the bigger picture: John 5 is a great guitarist, period.
And a hard-working one, too. The man has a lengthy and impressive resume that includes his famous stint with shock rocker Marilyn Manson and his current gig with Rob Zombie, but the list also includes diverse work with some names you might not expect, including Lita Ford, K.D. Lang, David Lee Roth, Meatloaf, Salt-N-Pepa, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many others. Surprisingly, to many, John 5 has an ardent love of bluegrass music and has the chops to prove it (just listen to “Sugar Foot Rag” from 2004 solo album Vertigo).
Further, he is a self-described “Fender fanatic” with a jaw-dropping collection of his favorite instrument, the Telecaster (“the greatest guitars ever built, by far, hands down,” he said). Such is his love for the instrument that Fender introduced the J5 Telecaster (and J5 Special Edition acoustic) in 2004 and the J5 Triple Tele Deluxe in 2007.
Born John Lowery in Grosse Point, Mich., he started playing guitar at age seven, inspired by TV shows such as Hee Haw and The Monkees. His parents supported their son’s musical efforts and let him play clubs as long as he kept his grades up. Lowery moved to California at age 18 to become a professional session guitarist; his first band there, Alligator Soup, introduced him to producer and longtime friend Bob Marlette, who provided Lowery with much television, commercial and film session work. This led to a gig with Lita Ford supporting Kiss, and Lowery was subsequently chosen from among 2,000 guitarists to tour with K.D. Lang.
In 1996, Lowery narrowly missed out on an audition with Marilyn Manson and instead teamed up with Rob Halford for industrial/classic rock band Two, appearing on the album Voyeurs. In 1998, Lowery contributed six songs to former Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth’s DLR Band album. Later that year, he started a six-year stint with Manson’s band and took the stage name John 5, appearing on the albums Mechanical Animals (1998), The Last Tour on Earth (1999), Holy Wood (2000) and The Golden Age Of Grotesque (2003).
John 5 left Manson’s band in 2004 and was encouraged by guitar legend Les Paul to record his first solo album, Vertigo, a dazzling and dizzying combination of metal and bluegrass. He also began working on a new band project called Loser and, in 2005, joined cult rock artist and movie director Rob Zombie for that summer’s Ozzfest tour. Second solo album Songs For Sanity appeared later that year.
John 5 released his third solo album, The Devil Knows My Name, in spring 2007, by which time he’d accepted a permanent position in Zombie’s band. Fender has produced several highly distictive John 5 artists signature models, detailed below.