Brian Haner

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Brian Haner Sr.
Birth name Brian Elwin Haner Sr.
Also known as Guitar Guy, Papa Gates
Born (1958-04-07) April 7, 1958 (age 59)
California, United States
Genres Comedy, rock, country, Heavy metal, hard rock
Occupation(s) Singer/Songwriter, Guitarist, Comedian, Writer, Film composer
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1977–present
Labels Polydor, Indie
Associated acts Jeff Dunham, Frank Zappa, Rose Royce, Tower of Power, Undisputed Truth, Avenged Sevenfold, Z Nation, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs

Brian Elwin Haner Sr. (born April 7, 1958), also known as Guitar Guy or Papa Gates, is an American musician, comedian, and author. Haner is known for touring with fellow stand-up comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, as in the 2008 holiday program, Jeff Dunham's Very Special Christmas Special. He is also a noted session musician for Avenged Sevenfold, a band which his son, Brian Haner Jr. a.k.a. Synyster Gates, is the lead guitarist for.

Early life[edit]

Haner got his first guitar when he was 5 years old, after seeing The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. He joined his first band, The Plastic Mind, when he was ten years old.[1]


A year before finishing high school, Haner got a summer job touring with Sam the Sham and Pharaohs, best known for their hit songs Woolly Bully and Little Red Riding Hood. After high school, Haner did session work and played in night clubs in the LA area while attending The Dick Grove School of music where he studied Composition, Arranging, Advanced Music Theory and Film Scoring.

He spent a year as one of Motown star Norman Whitfield's main session guitar players – working with Undisputed Truth, Rose Royce & Jr. Walker. His work with Whitfield included the songs "Car Wash", "Wishing On A Star", as well as several movie soundtracks, including Car Wash, Animal House & Which Way is Up?"

Haner signed his first record deal with Polydor under the name of Brian West. His self-produced first album "Don't Stop Now" featuring the Tower of Power Horns was successful in Europe, where it was certified gold in several countries. Throughout the 1980s, Haner recorded and toured mainly in Europe. In the early 90s, his composition work extended to scoring television shows and films, including TV101 and Eerie, Indiana. From 1998 to 2003, Haner produced his wife's hypnosis show as he continued as a session musician. in 2003, he signed with a Nashville music publisher and released two CDs; "My Old Guitar" and "Carney Man". Carney Man's success led to a successful run in stand-up comedy.

In 2005, Haner's first novel "Carney Man" was published. After a year spent mostly in comedy clubs and in Vegas opening for Bobby Slayton, Haner started touring and doing Comedy Central television specials as "Guitar Guy" with Jeff Dunham. While on tour with Jeff Duhnam, Haner released two solo CDs, "Cougar Bait" and "Fistfight at the Wafflehouse." He also released a CD with Jeff Dunham: "Jeff Dunham's Very Special Christmas", featuring Dunham's puppets singing Haner's original songs. Since leaving Jeff Dunham's show in 2011, he has released three more CDs: "The Artist Formerly Known As Guitar Guy", "Alone" and "Perfect World".

In 2012, he spent the summer in Africa headlining the prestigious South Africa Comedy Festival. Haner has also recently appeared on Showtime's "Red Light Comedy Special", which was taped in Amsterdam and on AXS.TVs Gotham Comedy Live from NYC, performing his own music and stand-up comedy.[2]

In 2012, he released his second book entitled "Ginny Reb", a book about a young woman's experiences in the Confederate army.

He left comedy and performing in 2014 so he and his wife Suzy could take over as coordinators of The Orange County School of the Arts' Commercial Music Program in Orange County, California.

Haner continues to do session work and in the Fall of 2016, he composed the music score for the 2 hour premiere of the highly acclaimed television show "Z Nation" on the SyFy channel.

With Avenged Sevenfold[edit]

Haner made his first appearance with Avenged Sevenfold on their third studio album, City of Evil, playing acoustic & electric guitar on several tracks including a dual guitar solo with his son on "Sidewinder". He contributed string arrangements on their self-titled album. He was also the orchestral arranger on the track, "Until the End," from Diamonds in the Rough. He played additional guitar on the track, "So Far Away," and the guitar solo on "Tonight the World Dies" on their Nightmare album. He played the outro guitar solo on "Coming Home" on Hail to the King album. Most recently, he contributed outro guitar solo on the song "Angels" from their latest album The Stage. He made a rare live appearance with Avenged Sevenfold at their all acoustic Grammy Museum concert in October 2017.[3]

Personal life[edit]

He married in 1980 to his first wife Jan (Smith) Gera. The couple had two sons, Brian Haner Jr, better known by his stage name, Synyster Gates, who is the lead guitarist for the metal band Avenged Sevenfold and Brent Haner, a successful insurance agent at Trinity One Insurance.[4] The couple divorced in 1990. Haner is currently married to Suzy Haner, a successful comedic hypnotist. They have one daughter, McKenna - born in 1997.


  1. ^ "Improv Ontario, CA Comedy Club |". October 12, 2010. Archived from the original on August 28, 2008. Retrieved December 8, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Brian 'Guitar Guy' Haner has all the luck on Jeff Dunham's tour". Retrieved 2010-12-08. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Brian Haner Timeline". Retrieved 2010-12-08. 

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