Exodus Guitarist Gary Holt – Biography

Gary Wayne Holt was born May 4th, 1964 in Richmond California. While not a founding member, Holt is the lone musician who has appeared on every one of the thirteen albums released by the San Francisco thrash band Exodus. In 2011, Holt was asked by fellow Bay Area thrashers Slayer to fill in at guitar for Jeff Hanemann, and performed with the band during its five-date Australian Soundwave Festival tour as well as the band’s set at the Big 4 Concert in Indio, California on April 23rd.

Exodus was founded in 1980 by current Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett, second guitarist Tim Agnello, frontman Paul Baloff, Tom Hunting on drums, and Carlton Melton on bass. Before the band was named or any songs had been written, Agnello left the band to pursue a life of ministry and was replaced by Holt, who had been serving as Hammett’s guitar tech. Holt has been considered the band’s main songwriter ever since and has been the only member to remain with the band ever since.

By 1982, when the band recorded its first demo, Melton had been replaced by Jeff Andrews on bass, who would leave shortly after to form Possessed. The demo would be Kirk Hammett’s only recorded contribution with the band, as he left shortly after to join Metallica. Holt brought in Rick Hunolt to replace Hammett, and the duo would later become known as the band’s “H-Team”. With Rob McKillop handling bass duty, this lineup would head into the studio to record their first album, “1985’s “Bonded By Blood,” still considered the band’s best by its most devout fans.

Shortly after “Bonded By Blood” was done recording, Baloff was fired by the band and replaced with Steve “Zetro” Souza, who had been the frontman for Legacy, an early incarnation of the band Testament. Baloff went on to form a band called Piranha, named for one of the tracks on “Bonded By Blood.” The lineup would remain fairly stable for the next few years, and the underground success of “Bonded” led to the band signing with Sony / Combat Records, which released their second album, “Pleasures of the Flesh,” in 1987.

“Pleasures” found little commercial success, but the band struck gold with its next album, “Fabulous Disaster,” in 1989. The album reached No. 82 on the Billboard 200 chart, unheard of for band’s of that genre at the time, and a video for the single “Toxic Waltz” was played heavily on MTV’s “Headbanger’s Ball.” Exodus would go on to release nine more studio albums, none of which matched the success of “Fabulous Disaster,” though the band is considered a principal cog in the rise of the Bay Area thrash movement, along with the more commercially successful Bay Area stalwarts Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, and Megadeth. The band has also released three live albums and two compilations.

Holt currently has an endorement deal with Schecter Guitars, and has a signature model through them, though he has used Ibanez, Jackson, and B.C. Rich guitars onstage in the past. Holt released an instructional video in 2008 called “A Lesson In Guitar Violence,” and produced Warbringer’s second album, “Waking Into Nightmares,” in 2009.

Holt cites as his main influences on guitar: Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Schenker, Tony Iommi, Ted Nugent, Angus Young, Uli Jon Roth and Matthias Jabs. Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Venom, Motorhead, and Iron Maiden are among the bands Holt says inspired him.

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