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Photo: John 5 | By Jake Barlow, CBS News | He’s become one of the most acclaimed guitarists today of heavy metal — and bluegrass. John Lowery, performing under the stage name John 5, has played with Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and David Lee Roth, and recorded with Lynyrd Skynyrd. But he traces his appreciation for the guitar to watching “Hee Haw” as a kid.

The musicianship he saw performing country tunes inspired him to pursue a virtuosity that is as much at home in a heavy metal club as it is at a hootenanny. During concerts with his group, John 5 and the Creatures, he will riff tunes ranging from rock to country, which only seems weird when you factor in his stage makeup.

“I love Roy Clark,” he told CBS News’ Jake Barlow. “I started playing guitar at the age of seven. My parents would always watch ‘Hee Haw.’ Everything comes to when you’re a young child, your brain develops in what you want to do, what you like, what you don’t like. And I remember seeing this young boy, he was probably a little older than me, but he was an incredible banjo player. I was like, ‘Whoa, this is incredible!'” [The boy, Jimmy Henley, won a bluegrass banjo world championship at age 10, and would go on to appear as a regular cast member of “Hee Haw” for more than 25 years.]

“And I knew I wanted to play electric guitar, so I thought, well, instead of banjo I’ll play electric guitar. I was so obsessed with playing guitar. I don’t know what I would be doing other than guitar because I’ve been playing guitar for so long. The only other thing I like to do is clean a house. I know that sounds odd, but I feel very organized, so, maybe I would be a male maid if I wasn’t a guitar player.”

He described a rather sheltered life growing up, and moving to California to give it the old “high school try.” High school try? “‘Cause I didn’t go to college,” he said.
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His latest album, “Sinner,” mixes heavy metal with jazz standards, including “How High the Moon” and “Georgia On My Mind”:

“After I left Marilyn Manson, I didn’t really know what to do, so I was like, well, maybe I’ll make an instrumental record. And I wanted to make if for my friends at Christmas time and give it to them as a gift. I thought that’ll be a fun gift. And this small record company said, ‘We want to release this.’ I thought. ‘Oh that’s odd, you know? But OK, cool!’ And they put it out. And it was so, it’s just amazing, but it had such a great response. They put me on the cover of Guitar Player and all this stuff, because it was different. I played this heavy metal music and country, all these crazy styles. And people just loved it.
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Read the whole story with videos here:

Story produced by Jake Barlow and David Morgan.


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