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.

Day 27: A song that you wish you could play #30dsc

30 day song challenge day 27: A song that you wish you could play

Slayer—Seasons in the Abyss

There really is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to play this song, taken from Slayer’s 1990 album of the same name: Seasons in the Abyss. I’ve got the TAB music for it and I can play along to the intro.

That said, this song has one of the best intros to any metal song. In the history of metal. Ever.

Fact!

(There’s a really great cover of the song by palendre, an older-looking, white-haired guy on YouTube.)

Day 6: A song that reminds you of somewhere #30dsc

30 day challenge day 6: A song that reminds you of somewhere

WARNING! This video contains flashing images, swearing and scenes which some people may find disturbing.

Slayer—Raining Blood (live)

One summer (I guess it must have been around 1987; I thought it was 1986 but the album Reign In Blood wasn’t released until October 1986 so I guess it wasn’t) I went on a Scripture Union camp to Whitley Bay, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. We stayed in some kind of holiday accommodation attached to a church there—it might have been the Baptist Church; someone with a better memory will be able to remind me.

Anyway, out shopping in Whitley Bay one afternoon my school friend David bought the latest Slayer album Reign In Blood on 12″ vinyl. Not the kind of album that you would automatically associate with a Christian youth camp, but there you have it. We had slightly different tastes, I guess.

In the evenings, once the younger campers were safely tucked up in their bunk beds the older campers were allowed to stay up late. So we would creep down to the lounge in the basement and crank out Reign In Blood at loud volume.

What an album! 28 minutes of thrash metal. It’s an album that is still regarded by many as the thrash album and one of the most influential metal albums of all time.

To me though, that album reminds me of sitting around with my school friends Kenny, David and Warren, laughing and having fun in a church hall basement in North Tyneside.