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Paul Baloff Remembered: A Tribute To The Fallen Exodus Frontman RIP 1960-2002

By Edward "Ace" Annese, RealityCheck TV
Thursday, February 7, 2002 @ 12:16 AM

Members Of Metallica, Testamen

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Paul Baloff was perhaps one of the unlikeliest frontmen in thrash metal. Looking like a cross between the Tazmanian Devil and those little troglodyte dolls with the big hair, Paul was definitely an original.

His influence on Thrash cannot be disputed. As Lead Throat for Metal Pioneers Exodus, he recorded one the genre's seminal albums, Bonded By Blood. And even though Exodus went on without him, that record and lineup were still the ones the fans clamored for years after his departure from the band.

Over the years, his Legend only grew, and the fans were treated to a reunion of the classic Bonded By Blood lineup, resulting in a live disc and world tour.

In the last couple years, Exodus and Paul have played together sporadically, including the memorable Thrash of the Titans Benefit for Chuck Billy of Testament. More recently, the band had begun to gear up a little, booking some west coast dates and talking about recording a new disc. There was also talk of Paul & co. doing a new theme song for one of Paul's favorite Pro Wrestling Tag-Teams --The Road Warriors of the fledgling XWF.

Alas, 'twas not to be.

One of Rock's true wildmen was felled by a stroke while riding his bike in Oakland. Despite the best efforts of all concerned, he slipped away from this mortal coil this past Sat. Feb 2nd.
He is missed by the band, his friends and the fans for his Showmanship, sense of humor, love of life and general zaniness. It was never a dull moment with Paul around...

A Public Memorial is being held on February 12th at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco, courtesy of friend and DNA club manager Alexis Olson. There is a minimum of a $5 donation requested for Paul's Memorial Fund. Music provided by the Master of Metal himself, DJ Ron Quintana of KUSF 90.3 Rampage Radio fame. (note: it's age 21 and up to be admitted). Doors open at 8pm and eulogy starts at 9:30pm

In addition, a new ESP guitar autographed by the remaining members of Exodus will be auctioned off during The Bone Metal Zone with host Billy Steel at 107.7 FM, Friday night at 7pm. The winner will be presented with the guitar during the memorial.
For those of you who cannot attend the memorial please remember that donations can be sent to:

The Mechanics Bank
c/o The Paul Baloff Memorial Fund
9996 San Pablo Avenue
El Cerrito, CA 94530

Any money remaining after the funeral expenses will be donated to the Wolf Recovery Foundation: www.forwolves.org

You can check out a great memorial page for Paul at http://www.paulbaloff.com/
“We were sitting around in his car drinking vodka saying how much we loved each other and how great it was to have a band. Someone whipped out a razor blade and we started cutting up our hands. We all rubbed the blood together and we were all bonded by blood…” – Kirk Hammett
RIP Paul Baloff 1960-2002

* * *

Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett, who also formed Exodus with Paul, issued the following message via their official websites http://www.metclub.com/ and www.metallica.com as a tribute to his former bandmate Paul Baloff. You can watch a video of this speech at either site.

Kirk Hammett:
Well, when I was about 18 years old I was looking to form a band based on all my favorite hard rock bands, 'cuz back then heavy metal was something that wasn't exactly heavy metal. Back then it was called hard rock, 'cuz there weren't really many bands collection bands who were known as heavy metal bands, back then they were known as hard rock bands. I was looking to form a band based on my favorite band UFO, and I was trying to find musicians who were into the same stuff I was UFO, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Judas Priest, Venom. So one night I was at a party in Berkeley and I saw this guy, and he had an Iron Maiden button on, and I came up to him and I said, 'Hey man! Are you into Iron Maiden?' He goes, 'Oh they rule!' I go, 'What's your name?' He goes, 'My name's Paul Baloff.' I go, 'Ever heard of UFO?' He goes, 'Yeah, I've heard of UFO,' and started singing 'Rock Bottom' to me. And 'Rock Bottom' was one of the songs I was interested in covering in my band.

So I said, 'Well hey man, give me your number and we'll jam.' And so he gave me his number and the next day he came down and he sang with the early version of Exodus, and yes, sang 'Rock Bottom'. And you know, he didn't have the best voice in the world but he had tons of charisma, was the funniest guy in the world, he knew the music and he knew what we were shooting for… and that was good enough for me.

“The great thing about Paul was when we played our first show, a Metal Monday at the Old Waldorf, it was actually the first time we had played with Metallica, too. I was just so blown away by how well he worked the stage, I mean, for someone who had very little band or stage experience, he really knew what he was doing and felt very comfortable on stage. He was just a great frontman, and like I said, you know, for all the short-comings he had in the vocal department, he made up for it in pure charisma. He said the funniest things on stage and was just one of the funniest guys I knew.

I think one of the best memories I have of Paul was one night when we were sitting around in his car drinking vodka, straight from the bottle, listening to Venom and Mercyful Fate and we were drunk and we were just saying how much we loved each other and how great it was to finally have a band playing the type of music we wanted to play. And we all of a sudden decided that we should just immortalize it, and so someone whipped out a razor blade and we started cutting up our hands. In fact, there's my scar right there if you can see it (points to scar -ed). Can you see that scar? Anyway, I cut my hand, Gary Holt cut his hand, Tom Hunting cut his hand and Paul Baloff cut his hand and we all rubbed the blood together and we were all bonded by blood…and shortly after that came the song “Bonded By Blood.”

But yeah, that scar right there is in memory of Paul Baloff now. He was just a great guy, a great person, and he was one of the most extreme frontmen I knew, or I should say he grew to be one of the most extreme frontmen in metal, I think. If you weren't totally metal you would be ostracized by Paul from the stage. He would point people out and say, 'You're a fag, get the hell out of here,' or 'That guy's not banging. Kick his ass.' He kind of fostered that whole attitude of being just really extreme and he lived for metal.

Last Friday I got a call from my brother in law saying that he was in the hospital, so I called the hospital. Actually I got a hold of Rick Hunolt, who was the other guitar player in Exodus along with Gary (Holt) and he told me that Paul just went for a bike ride, came back, his girlfriend went down to lock up the bikes and by the time she came back up he was already in the throws of a seizure. So they called 911, they brought him to the hospital and he was already deep in it and by the time I spoke to Rick he said there was no brain activity. So I pretty much knew that when that happens there's no turning back, there's only one way to go.

And you know it's a big loss, at least in my life it is, because Paul set me on my way to a certain extent. He was the one missing link in my first metal band and when I had found him, I thought to myself, 'All we can go is up from here.' He was just an amazingly funny guy, very intelligent, very loyal, he would do anything for his friends.

It's just a shame and I'll miss him, but at least we have the first Exodus album, thank God for that!

One of my favorite Paul Baloff lines was, when he was introducing an Exodus song on their last live album the line went 'This song is older than shit, heavier than time.' I thought that was such a great line.

That's the way I like to think of him…heavier than time.

See ya, Paul.

Members of other bands that knew Paul along his journey in heavy metal have also shared some of their thoughts on Paul’s life and death:

Chuck Billy (Testament):
I would like to say that I will miss Paul Baloff and think of him always as a great frontier in the Metal Music family. I have many fond memories of Paul that I will always cherish. Paul lived, breathed, and ate Metal 100%. He loved the music and all the people, and was always ready for a good time. The world has suffered a great loss of a wonderful man. R.I.P., Paul.

Eric Peterson (Testament):
“Pioneers of the Bay Area Thrash Metal genre, Paul Baloff and Exodus have influenced the metal community worldwide with their debut release Bonded by Blood. It is and will always be a favorite of mine. My sympathies go out to his family, friends, and bandmates, as we all feel his untimely loss. I/we will miss Paul greatly, especially his stories and hearing him say: 'That's so heavy!' Paul was genuinely kind to everyone he met and always made me feel special. So go now to the metal kingdom in the sky and rest easy... I will forever remember you!

James Murphy (formerly of Testament/Death):
“I still remember the day I bought Bonded by Blood on vinyl. It was the day it came out and I had heard about this band whose demo was or pre-release of the album was supposedly just awesome. So, I went out of my way to get it. When I dropped the needle on the disk for the first time I knew what all the hype was about. That album was awesome and I still love it to this day. I remember thinking that the vocals were the sickest, most twisted, and uniquely killer voice I'd heard to that point. I loved them. I still have my original copy to this day, at my sister's house where it stayed safe even though I lost everything that I had taken to California. I met Paul Baloff a few times during my stay in the Bay Area, and he was always nice. I never told him how much I liked his vocals, and I regret that now. He didn't deserve to go out like that.

Scott Ian (Anthrax):
We received some bad news before the [Tampa show at Jannus Landing]. Our friend Paul Baloff from Exodus died. We've known Paul since 1984 when we played The Kabuki in [San Francisco] and [Exodus] opened the show. We should've opened for them that night. We had a ball, they trashed our dressing room. Huge food fight. The last time I saw Paul was at the Thrash Of The Titans benefit in SF [for Testament vocalist Chuck Billy] back in August. What a fucking bummer. We had a 'moment of noise' for Paul during our show as the usual moment of silence just didn't seem right. I hope Paul is in a place where thrash rules and he's the king.”

Corey Taylor (Slipknot):
I just can't believe he's dead. What's this world coming to?

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