RIP Jeff Hanneman: Slayer Guitarist Is Dead
Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman has died.
flickr/edvill Jeff Hanneman
The cause was liver failure; he passed at an area hospital near his home this morning.
He was 49.
Hanneman has not been active in Slayer for the last few years, since suffering a flesh-eating bacteria from a spider bite. No word yet if that caused any complications leading to his death.
Though not the most famous member of the group, Hanneman was the real deal, arranging the majority of the songs on the group's masterpiece Reign in Blood.
Hanneman was one of the founding members of Slayer in 1981, along with
front man guitarist Kerry King and drummer Dave Lombardo.
Early on the trio added Chilean bassist Tom Araya, making a name for themselves playing Iron Maiden and Judas Priest covers at Southern California clubs and parties.
Slayer first received buzz in the underground when Metal Blade founder Brian Slagel saw them open for Bitch, inviting them to record an original for his Metal Massacre III compilation.
See also: Our Metal Blade Records oral history
The band acquired much of their militarist imagery from Hanneman. His father was a World War II veteran, while both his brothers served in Vietnam. Thus, Hanneman acquired an interest in the military from a very early age.
Jeff Hanneman, left
Slayer's controversial National Socialist lyrics and imagery also stemmed from Hanneman. While still a boy, he was presented with medals that his father looted from German corpses during World War II. He continued to collect Nazi paraphernalia throughout his entire life, an obsession that he shared with Lemmy of Motörhead. Along with the rest of the band, Hanneman denied that they were promoting fascism, explaining that it was just an interest.
Slayer did not have a strict line between a lead and rhythm guitar player. This lead to a lot of interplay between the two guitarists that was often chaotic and wild, leading to legions of imitators, with few who could duplicate either's style. His interest in punk rock and the early days of heavy metal led to the band recording Undisputed Attitude, their collection of punk rock covers released in 1996.