The Truth About Peter Criss' Relationship With Rob Zombie Guitarist John 5

Rob Zombie guitarist John 5 is lauded as being one of the best and most versatile guitarists on the planet. According to his website, John 5 was born ​​John William Lowery on July 31, 1970, and grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. The Fender-Telecaster-slinging guitar player known for the horror-movie-inspired imagery that appears in a lot of his work, says he took up playing guitar at the age of 7 after he saw banjo player Jimmy Henley on the country variety show "Hee Haw."

"It's crazy there's this exact moment when I realized I wanted to play," he told Syracuse. "It changed my life."

While it may seem odd that a guitarist primarily known for having played with some of rock and metal's biggest stars to have found his first inspiration in country music, it explains how his unique playing style fuses hard rock and heavy metal-style shredding with techniques often found in country music. It's also a reason why he has favored Fender Telecasters for much of his career, a guitar model often seen in a country guitarist's arsenal.

Despite initially wanting to be a session musician, John 5 eventually found his way to the stage covering guitar duties for the likes of David Lee Roth, Marilyn Manson, and his current job, with horror-rocker and film director Rob Zombie.

John 5's versatility leads to playing with a diverse collection of musicians

Given his adaptability as a guitarist and his penchant for being able to meld different styles of music together seamlessly in his playing, John 5 has worked with a diverse laundry list of some of music's biggest names. According to All Music, he has worked with Avril Lavigne, Garbage, Rob Halford, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ozzy Osbourne, and Meat Loaf

On his website, John 5 mentions how his career has exceeded his wildest dreams. "When I drove to LA when I was 18, I never dreamed I would be making records with bands I grew up listening to. I just wanted to play guitar. I just wanted to have a career as a session musician — that would have been happiness enough."

While he's known for having appeared on tracks by some of music's biggest, John 5 has a highly successful solo career all his own. It was on one of his solo records — 2021's "Sinner" — that John 5 would join forces with one of rock music's most legendary drummers.

Peter Criss, the original Catman

Kiss inspired generations of rock and metal musicians and manning the drum kit in the band's legendary lineup was the original Catman, Peter Criss. The Brooklyn native was born ​​Peter George Criscoula and his playing can be heard on Kiss's most iconic songs like "Rock and Roll All Nite," "Detroit Rock City," "Cold Gin," and many more, and even handled vocals on the band's hit ballad "Beth."

According to All Music, the immense fame that the band earned wound up being too much for Criss to handle and he developed a drug addiction and was known for erratic, unreliable behavior in the late '70s. The band's sound began to change — namely with the disco-tinged "I Was Made For Loving You" — Criss and the band parted ways. Criss, along with original guitarist Ace Frehley who left the band just two years after Criss, reunited with remaining members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley for a reunion tour in 1996. The tour was a success but by the early 2000s, both Criss and Frehley found themselves out of the band.

Criss still performs and even made a foray into acting. In 2021, he would hop behind the drums to jam with John 5 on a surprisingly jazzy number.

Peter Criss and John 5 join forces

According to Rock Celebrities, John 5 is a massive Kiss fan and memorabilia collector, so it makes sense that he would seek out the services of the band's former drummer. He initially announced plans for his solo album "Sinner" and Criss' guest appearance during an interview with Sirius XM's Eddie Trunk on his radio show "Trunk Nation," per Ultimate Classic Rock.

"Peter Criss is playing drums on the song 'Georgia on My Mind,' which is the last song on the record," he said.

According to Song Facts, "Georgia on My Mind" was written by songwriters Hoagy Carmichael ​​and Stuart Gorrell in 1930. It's a jazz song, which may be unexpected coming from the likes of John 5 and Peter Criss. Nonetheless, John 5 explained to Guitar how it makes perfect sense.

"Peter's one of my favorite people on this earth; he loves jazz. I was just going to finish it out with like a solo guitar, jazz guitar, and I said, 'Pete, would you play on this song?'. He said, 'Sure, I'd love to,'" he said. "And man I tell ya, he sat down at those drums and just played it effortlessly. It was like breathing to him, because he loves jazz and you can hear in a lot of those early KISS songs – those are jazz licks in there."

The song also has a special opening: a candid spoken-word intro by Criss. "We caught him talking a little bit before we started recording, we used a little bit of that." John 5 said.