Jeff Hanneman, original guitarist and songwriter for the band Slayer, died today of liver failure in a southern California hospital, according to a posting on Slayer’s official Facebook page. He was 49 years old.
Born in 1964, Hanneman helped found the popular thrash metal band Slayer in 1981 along with fellow guitarist Kerry King. The band has been putting out albums consistently since its 1983 debut, Show No Mercy, and Hanneman has played rhythm and lead guitar on each of them, including their most recent effort, 2009’s World Painted Blood.
Hanneman had been on medical leave from Slayer since early 2011 after he contracted necrotizing fasciitis, a rare, quick-spreading flesh-eating disease. His bandmates had been optimistic during his recovery and rehabilitation and were hopeful that their he would eventually rejoin them for a new album and tour.
Exodus guitarist Gary Holt has been filling in for Hanneman on the road, and played with Slayer at the 2011 Big 4 concerts with fellow thrash heavies Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax. Hanneman did perform two songs during an encore at one of those shows.
Here is the official posting from Slayer’s Facebook page.
Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11AM this morning near his Southern California home. Hanneman was in an area hospital when he suffered liver failure. He is survived by his wife Kathy, his sister Kathy and his brothers Michael and Larry, and will be sorely missed.
Our Brother Jeff Hanneman, May He Rest In Peace (1964 – 2013)
To say the music world has lost one of its greats would be an understatement. Although Hanneman might not be a household name, the musician is credited with writing some of Slayer’s most famous songs, including their most popular AND one of the most popular metal songs of all time, “Angel of Death,” which is based on Nazi Josef Mengele’s experiments on prisoners at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. That song, from the 1986 album Reign in Blood, alone helped propel the band from an indie thrash metal outfit into a world-renowned powerhouse. Hanneman wrote half of their debut album and Reign in Blood and over the years contributed tunes like “War Ensemble, “Chemical Warfare,” and “Raining Blood.” With Hanneman on deck, Slayer’s music has blazed the trails for decades, as the guitarist took the stylings British metal groups like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and expounded upon it, with fast-paced riffs and intricate lyrics. He also took his love of punk bands, like The Dead Kennedys, and brought it into the trash metal fold, eventually resulting in Slayer’s punk rock cover album Undisputed Attitude (1996), for which he contributed two of his own punk songs.
To be a fan of Slayer is to truly be a fanatic, as evidenced by the rabid attendees of their concerts throughout the world, who will chant “SLAYER” for extended periods of time until the band takes the stage, including during the opening act’s performance. I’ve seen the band perform many times starting in the 1980s where they played local clubs, and I can tell you that seeing Slayer perform, especially up-close and in mosh-pit range, is quite the experience. Whether its for 1,000 people or at a massive outdoor festival, their show and their songs are intense and brutal. Together, these guys made magic. It’s an experience that will never be the same again now that Hanneman is gone. But, his legacy will surely live on.
All of us here at Geeks Of Doom are deeply saddened by the news, and extend our condolences to the band and to Hanneman’s family and friends, and join together with our brothers and sisters of metal around the world who are mourning the loss of this great metal legend.