Real Name: John William Lowery. Born: 31st July,1971, Grosse Pointe City, Michigan, USA.
MM guitarist from July 1998 to 30 March 2004. Replaced Zim Zum.
Thrown in at the deep end with Marilyn Manson, John's first gig was the MTV Video Music Awards of September 1998. Never having seen them play live, he wasn't sure what to expect but later described it as "...a great first show." Obviously a man with nerves of steel. When I think about it, his nerves are probably made out of guitar strings by now.
John had quite a career under his belt even before joining MM, and his initial interest in playing music all began when he was still a boy.
In 1978, aged 7, John got the 'Love Gun' album by Kiss and became a big fan of theirs, the title track being his favourite one. His favourite Kiss album now though is 'Dressed to Kill', and 'Rock bottom' his favourite song. He got his first guitar for Christmas that same year, and soon realized he wanted to be a musician.
He said his first ever gig was when he was:
... 'in the sixth grade and had this little band. We would play Van Halen covers. We did our first show in this dirty old bar in Michigan, and our families were there.'
That would be the band he was in called Dirty Trixx, when aged about 12. And that little bar was the Ham Tram Club. His mum encouraged him to play at local clubs in the evenings, and I believe he won a music competition in his home state, Michigan.
John first saw and met Kiss, as a fan, in 1983 at Cobo Hall in Detroit, then met them again when he played as part of their opening act. They're now good friends and, with his collection of Kiss memorabilia, he is ever the fan. Is he a KISS Army General now?
In 1987, John played guitar in a four-piece 'progressive metal' band called Raven Payne.
Still in his teens, he headed for Los Angeles, intent on becoming a professional session guitarist. There, he met Bob Marlette the producer and befriended Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot/Whitesnake) who both helped him to meet other musicians. John worked as a studio musician from 1989 onwards, including work on commercials and TV background music.
Teaming up with an impressive array of people and bands over the years, John never limits himself to any one style. He recognizes that different forms of music all have something to offer. Country music and Bluegrass seem to be particular favourites, something that the other Manson's have teased him about.
His interest in country music began at the age of six when he saw a young kid playing banjo extremely well on a TV show called "Hee Haw". This made a big impression on him and he thought 'I want to do that!' So he learned to play country music on the guitar and then discovered Jimi Hendrix, Kiss and Van Halen.
He has also cited The Monkees music and TV show as part of his initial inspiration. And Eddie Van Halen became his childhood guitar-hero, with the album 'Van Halen' (1978) being his favourite one.
He was playing for Red Square Black with Randy Castillo (longtime Ozzy Osbourne drummer) when Lita Ford asked him to join them. The fact that things were a little uncertain for Red Square Black and that Lita Ford was opening a show for KISS were influences in his decision to accept.
There's a Red Square Black self-titled CD if you're interested in tracking it down. I've heard it's pretty good.
I think his time with Two deserves a little section of its own, so here it is: John Lowery in Two. It provided his lead-in to Marilyn Manson after all.
As well as guitar and banjo, John also plays bass guitar. I wonder if he's ever tried to play the sitar?
John has been described as, in some ways, the cleanest living of the Manson's because he doesn't take recreational drugs or drink alcohol. Quite an achievement in a band famous for their wilder moments.
Both of his arms and shoulders are fully sleeved, meaning fully covered, in tattoos.
Music that John likes/is influenced by includes: KISS, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Placebo, Steely Dan, Judas Priest, Prince, Mozart, NIN, Suede, Metallica, Oasis... and he loves country music.
He particularly admires the guitar work of Doc Watson, Steve Vai, Bret Mason and Buckethead.
He has two pet dogs and an extensive guitar collection, and was careful not to take his most valued guitars out on Manson tours (you wouldn't do it either - think about it!). As of 2004, he had 'close to eighty guitars'. I don't know if you're allowed to touch any of them but I think you're allowed to point.
John reportedly loves junk food. k.d. lang says she never saw him eat a healthy meal when he toured with them. But then touring behaviour isn't like the other times in life so maybe when he's at home his body is a temple - strewn with burgers and fries. Just kidding, he's too tidy for that.
For his place on the k. d. Lang 1996 world tour, John is said to have been chosen from out of 200 guitarists. Some places say he was chosen out of 2000. Whatever the true number, he was the best choice.
He wanted to audition for MM in mid-1996 when Daisy left but missed the deadline and Mike Linton (who became Zim Zum) got the job instead. It wasn't until July 1998, when Zim left, that he was invited to join the band. Pogo, apparently, wouldn't speak to him at first, finally saying 'Why should I say hi to you? You're only gonna be in the band for six months.'
This assessment by the springy one was based on Zim's perceived lack of staying power because he was gone after one album. John proved his worth from the word go, however, and Pogo now talks to him.
John's first Manson video was The Dope Show, filmed in downtown Los Angeles, in 1998.
On the 2003 tour, as well as his normal guitar duties, John5 played bass guitar for the song 'The Golden Age of Grotesque', whilst usual bassist Skold played the double bass. I was especially pleased to see and hear his guitar solo in Para-noir during the Golden Age tour.
And Manson, just because you and Tim wrote that solo doesn't take away from John's playing of it, so there. You had to get a dig in about it didn't you? Just like me here, with my counter-dig (evil laugh).
John has a Fender guitar named after him: The John5 signature Telecaster. It went on sale early in 2004 and there's a standard model and two custom models. John played a big part in determining the specifications of all three. Visit Fender Guitars for the details or read this interview: Vintage Guitars magazine.
In his spare time, John loves going to the cinema and searching for vintage guitars to add to his collection.
He married fiancée Aria on 12th March 2005.
For a listing of John5's pre-Marilyn Manson guitar/musical credits see: John5 credits
Article and interview links for John5
2003 interview, from just before the release of The Golden Age of Grotesque. On 'Ferrante's Power Equipment' site: John 5 interview
John5 interview by Lisa Sharken. Good information on his guitar playing and equipment, from Guitar Player Online, June 2001. The link stopped working so I've set a page up for it here: John5 interview by Guitar Player Online
Life After Marilyn Manson
Since April 2004, John5 fans can mingle at the: John-5.com Forums
And there's also a myspace page:
John 5 Official myspace