Jeff Hanneman (1964-2013) RIP

Jeff Hanneman in rehearsals (Source: Slayer website)
Jeff Hanneman in rehearsals (Photo: Slayer website)

Yesterday was a particularly sad day for me. Not only did I attend a memorial event for our friend and former neighbour Ian McKie (I’ll write more about that at a later date, once I’ve processed the news a bit more), but I also learned of the death of Slayer guitarist and songwriter Jeff Hanneman.

The first time I heard Slayer was in a church basement in Whitley Bay. The album was Reign In Blood, which is still regarded by many as the definitive thrash metal album. The album was released in October 1986 and as I was on a Borders Scripture Union summer camp I guess it must have been 1987.

Slayer was the first metal band I saw in concert, at the Edinburgh Playhouse in 1988, promoting their South of Heaven album; Nuclear Assault were the support act.

Jeff Hanneman suffered a spider bite in 2011, which resulted in a condition called necrotizing fasciitis, a rare and horrible flesh-eating disease which almost immediately put his life at risk. As was reported on the Slayer website recently,

for a couple of days after he went to the ER, things were touch-and-go. There was talk that he might have to have his arm amputated, and we didn’t know if he was going to pull through at all. He was in a medically-induced coma for a few days and had several operations to remove the dead and dying tissue from his arm. So, understand, he was in really, really bad shape. It’s been about a year since he got out of the hospital, and since then, he had to learn to walk again, he’s had several painful skin grafts, he’s been in rehab doing exercises to regain the strength in his arm. (Source)

Despite his rehab reportedly going well, and making an appearance at The Big Four show at Coachella in 2011, Hanneman never rejoined Slayer in a full time capacity. His place in the band was filled on tour by Exodus guitarist Gary Holt.

Sadly, the news broke yesterday that he had died from liver failure, although it was made clear on some reports that as yet there is no clear indication whether this was directly related to the spider bite.

This is the news currently on the Slayer website:

Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11AM this morning [Thursday, May 2] 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. (Source)

He will indeed be sorely missed by many.