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Chris Poland (born December 1, 1957) is an American jazz/jazz fusion, and heavy metal guitarist, best known for being a former member of thrash metal pioneers Megadeth.


Early career

Poland began playing guitar in high school in Dunkirk, New Yorkmarker in the rock/jazz band Welkin. He moved to Los Angeles in 1977, where from 1977 to 1982 he was the co-lead guitarist in the New Yorkers, a jazz/jazz fusion band, with Robert Pagliari on fretless bass, Gar Samuelson on drums, Stu Samuelson on guitar, and Don Roper on saxophone. The New Yorkers were very big in the L.A. jazz/jazz fusion scene, their music being noted for its incredible sophistication, and likened to that of Brand X, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. In view of their technical prowess, and relative youth (all were in their early twenties), the New Yorkers were considered virtuoso musicians.


In 1984, Poland's bandmate from the New Yorkers, Gar Samuelson, became the drummer of thrash metal band Megadeth. Megadeth had been formed the previous year by Dave Mustaine, the original lead guitarist of fellow thrash metal band Metallica, who had been fired from the band because of his substance abuse. After seeing Samuelson perform live with Megadeth, Poland went backstage and suggested an impromptu audition as a second lead guitarist. Poland thereafter became a full member of the band, along with Samuelon, Mustaine, and bass player David Ellefson.

Peace Sells...
But Who's Buying from 1986, Poland's second album with Megadeth

In 1985, Megadeth released their first album Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!, which showcased Poland's dynamic style of playing. However, due to his own substance abuse, Poland left the band during the tour to support the album, and was replaced temporarily by guitarist Mike Albert. Poland later rejoined the band to record their second album Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? in 1986. The album was highly acclaimed critically for both its instrumental and lyrical complexity, and is today considered widely to be one of the defining records of heavy metal. Allmusic referred to Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? as "One of the most influential metal albums of its decade, and certainly one of the few truly definitive thrash albums".

Mustaine later referred to Poland as "an amazing guitar player - he can play circles around me". However, Poland and Samuelon's relations with Mustaine and Ellefson worsened, due in part to the former's increasing drug dependencies, which would sometimes lead to them pawning the band's instruments to fund their drug habits. In July 1987, after the final show of the 'Peace Sells' tour, both Poland and Samuelson were fired from the band. Poland's departure in particular was not amicable. Mustaine later wrote the song Liar (from Megadeth third's album So Far, So Good... So What!) about him, and would regularly dedicate it to Poland during live performances.


Poland's solo debut album, Return to Metalopolis, from 1990

Ater leaving Megadeth, Poland was treated successfully for substance abuse, and joined punk rock legends The Circle Jerks as a bass player. In 1990, he released Return to Metalopolis a solo heavy metal/jazz fusion album. Shortly beforehand, he agreed to record demos for Megadeth's fourth album, Rust in Peace, but declined what would be the first of two offers to re-join the band permanently (in this instance partly because of his concentration on his solo album, and the fact that, since most of the album's music and arrangements had already been written, Poland felt that the scope for his input would be limited). Virtuoso guitarist Marty Friedman joined Megadeth later that year, and adapted some of Poland's guitar solos for the release version of Rust in Peace, which would go on to be Megadeth's most critically praised album.

In the mid to late 1990s, Poland worked on other collaborative musical projects, including the progressive rock band Damn the Machine, with David Randi on bass, and Dave Clemmons as vocalist and co-guitarist. In 1993, the band released their eponymous debut album (on A and M Records), with strongly political lyrical content. They also released a promotional record, Silence, featuring covers of I'd Love to Change the World by rock guitarist and singer Alvin Lee, and Cat Food by blues-rock band Ten Years After, and progressive rock/jazz fusion band King Crimson.

Upon Dave Clemmons' departure from the band, the remaining members recruited a new vocalist, John Skipp, and re-formed as Mumbo's Brain, recording Excerpts From The Book Of Mumbo in 1995. The band disbanded following the departures of David Randi, and John Skipp.


In 2000, ten years after the release of Return to Metalopolis, Poland released his second solo album, Chasing the Sun, as well as the solo compilation album Rare Trax. In 2007, he released Return to Metalopolis - Live, featuring live performances of his 1990 solo debut album.

Poland is currently a member of the primarily jazz fusion band OHM, formed in 2002, with Poland on guitar, Robertino Pagliari on bass guitar, and Kofi Baker on drums. OHM released their self-titled debut album in 2003, followed by Amino Acid Flashback in 2005, and Circus of Sound in 2008. The band also released a live album in 2004, and a DVD, Live at the New Brookland Tavern, in 2006.

In 2003, Poland performed a solo on Purified from the Lamb of God album As The Palaces Burn. The following year, he contributed to Lamb of God's next album, Ashes of the Wake, with a guitar solo on the album's instrumental title-track (beginning at 3:45 and ending at 4:15).

In a surprise turn in 2004, Dave Mustaine requested Poland to record guitar solos for the Megadeth record The System Has Failed, the first Megadeth album not to feature original bass player and founding member David Ellefson. Poland recorded the solos on a contractual basis, but did not re-join the band. With Poland's contribution, The System Has Failed is, at present, the last Megadeth album to feature any of the band's original recording line-up other than Dave Mustaine (with Ellefson no longer a member of Megadeth, Mustaine is now the sole remaining member of the band that recorded Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!). Poland and Mustaine subsequently came into dispute with one another over payments relating to the album, however, they appear to have made amends once more as Poland began posting on the official Megadeth online message board.

In 2009, Poland formed OHMPHREY, a side-project with Robby Pagliari of OHM, and Jake Cinninger, Kris Myers, and Joel Cummins of Umphrey's McGee. OHMPHREY released debut album, OMPHREY (on Magna Carta Records) on May 19, 2009.

In 2008, Poland appeared on Misty Mountain Hop: A Millennium Tribute to Led Zeppelin by heavy metal/hard rock band Harry Slash & The Slashtones. The following year, he recorded a track for the compilation record Guitars That Ate My Brain (which also includes a track by Guns N' Roses' guitarist Bumblefoot).


Chris Poland has a severed tendon on the index finger on his fret hand, which allows him to stretch unusually far with his finger. Poland has partially attributed the greater flexibility that this affords him to the evolution of his signature guitar playing style, defined by smoothly phrased passages and wide intervallic leaps.


with Megadeth


with Damn the Machine

with Mumbo's Brain

as guest musician in Lamb of God

with OHM

  • OHMPHREY (2009)

with various artists (compilation albums)
  • Guitars That Ate My Brain (2009)
  • Misty Mountain Hop: A Millennium Tribute to Led Zeppelin (2009)





  1. Birchmeier, Jason. "Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?" Remastered version AMG Review, at Allmusic; last accessed November 23, 2006.
  2. Chris Poland and OHM: Official Website

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