Founding Molly Hatchet Guitarist Steve Holland Dies

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Molly Hatchet (l-r) Dave Hlubek, Duane Roland, Banner Thomas and Steve Holland performing onstage at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago on Feb. 11, 1980.

Founding Molly Hatchet guitarist Steve Holland has died, his longtime friend, guardian and conservator John Pappas confirmed to Billboard. He was 66 years old.

No cause of death was given for the guitarist born in 1954, who appeared on the band's first five albums, including 1979's breakthrough Flirtin' With Disaster. 

Holland left the band in 1984 and later formed a group called Gator Country, named after the second track on Hatchet's 1978 self-titled debut album, which featured fellow former Hatchet members guitarist Duane Roland, drummer Bruce Crump, bassist Riff West and singer Jimmy Farrar. The Gator County FB page also had a tribute to Holland announcing the passing of the last original member of MH.

"It Is With GREAT SADNESS That I Announce The PASSING Of 'ORIGINAL' MOLLY HATCHET Band / GATOR COUNTRY Band Co-Founder Lead Guitarist, STEVE HOLLAND. Steve Was The LAST MAN STANDING And Has Joined The REST Of His FELLOW Band Brothers Up In Heaven. Steve's Health Had Been On A Downward Spiral For A While, With Steve Finally Getting His ANGEL WINGS Today August 2nd, 2020. You Will Always Be One Of The GREATEST STEVE!! REST WELL & SING Out With Danny Joe, Dave, Duane, Banner, Bruce, Jimmy & Riff In Heaven," it read, referring to Holland's fellow late Molly Hatchet members Danny Joe Brown, Dave Hlubeck, Roland, Banner Thomas and Crump.

"Steve found sobriety for the first time in his life in 2009, and after nine months of sobriety, he rediscovered his Christian values and built an extremely strong relationship with God," Pappas told Billboard of his late friend. "As Steve is no longer here with us physically, God is everywhere and so is Steve."

"He thanked me shortly before his death for helping him find God," Pappas continued. "I said, 'Steve, God wasn't lost. It was you.' And he said when he died, he wanted to go to heaven because he wanted to see his mom, his pops and his brother. All his family has passed. He thanked me for helping him find God, and there's no doubt where he is."

Last September, Gator Country posted an image of Holland in an emergency room hospital bed, reporting that he'd been transported via ambulance and was suffering from an "extremely low" red blood cell count and was scheduled to receive a transfusion. In February, Holland, seated in a wheelchair and looking frail, posted a video on the Gator Country FB page thanking fans for their support over the years.

Check out the tribute below.