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.
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.
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. 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.
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
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 duel guitar solo with his son on "Sidewinder". He contributed string arrangements on the Self-Titled album. He was also the orchestral arranger on the track, "Until the End," from Diamonds in the Rough. On the album, Nightmare, he played additional guitar on the track, "So Far Away," and the guitar solo on "Tonight the World Dies". Most recently he played the outro guitar solo on "Coming Home" from Hail to the King.
He married in 1980 to his first wife Jan 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. The couple eventually divorced. Haner is currently married to Suzy Haner, a hypnotist and together they have a daughter McKenna.