John began playing at the age of seven after asking for a guitar for Christmas. His influences at the time included The Monkees, KISS (John cites Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley as very close friends) and Jimi Hendrix. At the age of 15, John was playing at a number of local clubs in the evening, relying on his supportive mom to get him up for school the next day.
At 18, John traveled to California to pursue a career as a professional session guitarist. Meeting producer Bob Marlette (Tracey Chapman, Rob Halford and Black Sabbath) was a turning point in John’s career as he was introduced to other musicians. As a session guitarist, John worked on a number of different projects such as commercials, TV shows (Baywatch and Hard Copy) and a number of film soundtracks, including Speed 2. John’s first major break came in 1990 when Lita Ford asked him to open up with her for childhood heroes KISS. A lifetime friendship developed from there.
John began to work with a number of artists including John Wetton from Asia, Robin Zander, Wilson Philips, Rick Springfield and female rap trio, Salt N’ Pepa.
At one stage, John tried out for legendary rocker, Ozzy Osbourne, as a temporary replacement for Zakk Wylde. Although he didn’t make it, John hooked up with Ozzy’s drummer, Randy Castillo, to work in his first band, “Red Square Black“. He co - wrote all tracks on their debut album “Square“.
Sadly “Red Square Black“ was a short-lived project as John was selected from 2,000 guitarists to tour with Country and Western crooner, kd lang.
“Working with kd lang was great. She’s an amazing artist.“ (GUITARIST MAGAZINE)
In 1996 after the departure of Daisy Berkowitz, John had his first audition for Marilyn Manson. However he was late for the deadline, and the job went to Mike Linton (Zim Zum).
John’s next major break came when he teamed up with Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford for the industrial and classic rock influenced band “Two“. The subsequent album, “Voyeurs“, on which John played bass and guitar was produced by Nine Inch Nails Trent Reznor.
“Working with Rob Halford was an amazing experience. He is a metal God.“ (GUITARPLAYER.COM)
His next major project came in 1998, when he worked with ex Van Halen frontman, David Lee Roth. “When I was little my dream was to play with David Lee Roth. One day I was sitting at my friends house and...I wonder what...Roth is doing now. I’m gonna call up his manager and see if he needs any songs.“ (GUITARIST MAGAZINE)
Being a fan of Van Halen, John was already familiar with the style of music. He submitted six songs and finding they suited, submitted further tracks to Roth’s management. Eventually David and John met and recorded “The DLR Band“ album in two weeks.
“I remember before we started he said, If you can’t do it in two takes, you can’t do it.“ (GUITARIST MAGAZINE)
After the recording of “Mechanical Animals“, Marilyn Manson was again looking for a guitarist to replace Zim Zum who left the band in pursuit of a solo career. Again John went to try out for the band, of which he was already a huge fan.
“When I got home from the tour (touring with Rob Halford in Europe) Manson’s manager called and asked if I would like to meet Manson for lunch...Then he asked me to join the band - right there.“ (GUITARPLAYER.COM)
Taking the moniker, John 5, he signed on for the Mechanical Animals tour and to work on the next album. John’s first live performance for Marilyn Manson came on the MTV Video Music Awards.
After the turmoil of the tour, that had seen a media witch hunt of the band in light of 1999’s tragic Columbine High School shootings, the band regrouped at Houdini’s House in Laurel Canyon to work on the dark “Holywood“. John wrote on all of the tracks on the album bringing forth some of the most memorable power chords ever heard on a Marilyn Manson album.
“Writing in Manson is like building a house. Manson is a phenomenal producer...His production knowledge is astounding...“ (FENDER USA - MARCH 2004)
During this time John also appeared on several albums including the Jimi Hendrix tribute album “Hazy Days: Not a Jimi Hendrix Tribute“ and worked with artists such as Garbage, and Maria Antonakos as well as co-writing on another David Lee Roth track, “Thug Pop“. In 2002 Marilyn Manson saw another line-up change when bassist Twiggy Ramirez (Jeordie White) left to join James Maynard’s “A Perfect Circle“. John said of the time leading up to Twiggy’s departure: “...I thought I started to see Twiggy unhappy around Ozzfest...But I know he is doing well now in A Perfect Circle...And we have Tim Skold on bass so everything’s working out just fine.“ (TOTAL GUITAR - JULY 2003)
In 2003 after a long-standing relationship with Ibanez guitars, John released his first custom designed guitar - the John Lowery Signature Fender Telecaster. Guitarist Magazine called it “ the sexiest new signature guitar on the market.“ “ I showed it to the guys in Metallica and James Hetfield said, you got to get me one of those. It’s cool when your friends love the guitar you did.“ (GUITARIST MAGAZINE)
2003 also saw the release of Marilyn Manson’s next album and era “The Golden Age of Grotesque“, influenced by the Weimar Republic and the Vaudeville movement. The band were once again headlining Ozzfest and touring the world. John also began to develop ideas for a solo project influenced by his love for Bluegrass music.
“I did actually get Ginger, our drummer, to play on a Bluegrass track I’ve recorded (Sweet Georgia Brown) but I still haven’t really won the band over. They just don’t like it.“ (GUITARIST MAGAZINE)
In April 2004, Marilyn Manson.com announced the shocking departure of John from the band. “ The band has decided to part ways with guitarist John 5 as recording sessions for the next album begin.“ (www.marilynmanson.com) For John this came as surprise for him also, but despite this he had nothing but praise for Manson. “I truly enjoyed my time with Manson and have the greatest respect for the incredible fans,“ says John. “I am grateful to have contributed over 2 dozen songs to his projects. It was a great creative outlet for me at that point in my career.“
(OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM JOHN AS SEEN ON JOHN5.COM) “I had a great run with Marilyn Manson. It was a lot of fun and it was a really great experience, but I’ve got a lot of other stuff going on. I’m busier now than I was on tour.“ (
WWW.MTV.COM) And here we are today. John is now working on a solo album, titled “Vertigo“ which will be released sometime in the fall. He has also been working with artists such as Avril Lavigne and Lisa Marie Presley. John has plans to put together a band, and has reopened his website, which allows fans to question the man on a wide range of topics.
But if John got the call from Manson, would he go back....? “I’ve never played with anyone like him, and even after everything, I think that guy is a genius. He’s really incredible, and he’s going to be around a long, long time.“