John 5 Interview: 10 Albums That Changed My Life

John 5 Interview

Photo by Gunner-Kal Rocktography

With his signature Fender Ghost Tele in hand, John 5 perpetually pushes the boundaries of ” shred. ” For some, shredding means a Super Strat-wielding maniac steeped in ’80s culture and reeking of Aqua Net. And to be fair, there’s an element of truth to that, not that John 5 has ever paid much mind to it.

For John 5, to shred is to err toward the eclectic, leading him to merge hair, glam, metal, country, alternative, and oh-so-much more, forming a blissful soup steeped in six-string hysteria. If you’ve seen John 5 live recently—which this writer has—you’ll know, though, that he’s not just a capable, if not hypnotic technician, but a tone hound and stickler for perfection—especially when it comes to what he gives back to his audience,

During one particular February show at the Gramercy Theater in New York City—which this writer was joyfully in attendance for—John 5 kicked off his set, blazing through the first two tracks, only to halt the proceedings and informed the crowd that he blew an amp, would have to fix it and restart the show.

Most would have swapped the amp, hit the stage, and picked up right where they left off. But not John 5. Instead, he started the show over from the top, replaying the first two tracks, even though most in the audience—which reportedly included Kerry King and Ace Frehley (I can confirm)—probably wouldn’t have held it against him if he didn’t.

And so, the next time you boil John 5 to just another shredder, or just the guy holding it down in Motley Crue, or just the fella who used to play with David Lee Roth, Marilyn Manson, and Rob Zombie, stop yourself. There are so few artists (key word) who truly devote themselves to not just their craft, but their audience. But John 5 does.

Sure, he’s held down the biggest and baddest gigs in the world with extreme ease. That’s a fact. But what’s also a fact is that with his Ghost Tele in hand, John 5 pays nightly reverence to the instrument and the music that he’s held dear to his heart since he was just another kid on the floor listening to his small collection of records.

The players and bands who influenced John 5 mean something to him; that much is obvious. It’s in every chord change, each movement, and all his chugging riffs, bleeding-heart solos, and yes, his random bouts of furious chickin’ pickin’, too. With that in mind, John 5 beamed in with ClassicRockHistory.com to dig into the ten records that changed his life.

Are any of these your favorites, too?

# 10 – Rising Force –Yngwie Malmsteen (1984)

Rising Force was a total game-changer for me! It was an epiphany—the speed, the fluidity, and how clean and precise the playing was. It was totally a game-changer for my life.

# 9 – Diary of a Madman – Ozzy Osbourne (1981)

Wow. What can I say? I loved this album more than Blizzard of Ozz for some reason. I just loved every song on it, and of course, Randy’s playing was second to none. These songs will live on forever.

# 8 – Master of Puppets –  Metallica (1986)

This is another major influence for me and for the world! The production, the songs, and, of course, the brutal guitar playing was something that really had an effect on my life and still does to this day.

# 7 – Street Lethal –  Racer X (1986)

This was my introduction to Paul Gilbert. I was into Eddie [Van Halen] and Yngwie [Malmsteen], but Paul took it to another level. This is one of my favorite records still to this day.

# 6 – Hotter than Hell –  Kiss (1974)

My God. What an incredible record. One of my favorite Kiss songs is on this record… “Goin’ Blind.” Every song is incredible on this record, though, and I love how primitive the production is. This is their second record in 1974 [the first being Kiss], and what an incredible album cover as well.

# 5 – Women and Children First –  Van Halen (1980)

Of course, there’s Van Halen’s debut [Van Halen] and the follow-up [Van Halen II], but something really struck me about Women and Children First. You have “Take Your Whiskey Home,” plus “And the Cradle Will Rock…” and “Romeo Delight.” This album is just packed full of incredible songs.

# 4 – Passion and Warfare –  Steve Vai (1990)

This might be one of the greatest guitar records ever made. The songs, the production, all the way down to the cover—this album is a true masterpiece.

# 3 – The White Album –  The Beatles (1968)

There was so much controversy over this record, but what a beautiful record The White Album is. With “Dear Prudence,” “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Blackbird,” and the list goes on and on. This is one of my records that I must have if I was stranded on a desert island.

# 2 – Love Gun –  Kiss (1977)

This was my very first album I ever bought! I got it when it came out in 1977, and it changed my life forever. It is still one of my favorite records of all time. I was in Sears in June of 1977, and I remember dropping the needle and hearing “Love Gun” for the first time. Mind. Blown.

# 1 – Van Halen –  Van Halen (1978)

And my number one, of course, is Van Halen’s debut album, Van Halen. Hearing “Eruption,” hearing “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” and hearing “Runnin’ with the Devil,” this is a rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece—maybe one of the greatest rock albums ever made!

John 5 Interview: 10 Albums That Changed My Life article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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