Only two years after contracting a rare skin tissue disease, Slayer guitarist and co-founder Jeff Hanneman died today, Thursday, May 2, of liver failure at a Southern California hospital.
Slayer announced the news this afternoon, with the following statement on the band's website and Facebook page:
"Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11 a.m. this morning near his Southern California home. He was 49.
"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."
Hanneman hasn't toured with the thrash metal giants since early 2011, when he contracted necrotizing fasciitis from a spider bite. The disease eats away at the flesh from skin and tissue. Exodus' Gary Holt stood in for Hanneman starting in February 2011; Pat O'Brien joined the band when Holt returned to Exodus in 2011.
After not performing with the band since October 2010, Hanneman joined Slayer at a Big 4 concert in Indio, California, in April 2011. He surprised the crowd of 50,000 when he walked out onto the stage unannounced and played "South of Heaven" and "Angel of Death." Backstage in Slayer's dressing room afterwards, Hanneman relaxed on a couch and said, "I'm the happiest man in the world."
Gary Holt, guitarist for Exodus, has been the primary guest guitarist with Slayer since the band started its 2011 touring schedule in February and will continue in that capacity until Hanneman has completely recovered.
In 2011, Slayer updated fans about Hanneman's health:
"As you know, Jeff was bitten by a spider more than a year ago, but what you may not have known was that 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; but best of all, he's been playing guitar."
Hanneman's compositions have been recorded by Hatebreed, Children of Bodom, Hellsongs, Cradle of Filth and more, and sampled by rapper Styles-P. He's survived by Kathy, his wife of 16 years, sister Kathy and two brothers, Michael and Larry. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Reaction from the rock and metal world
Artists and metal fans instantly expressed their grief over Hanneman's death via Twitter:
HATEBREED: Rest In Peace Jeff Hanneman! A True Heavy Metal LEGEND!
CHIMAIRA: RIP Jeff Hanneman. Icon
JOSE MANGIN: Crushed out here in Cali about untimely passing of Jeff Hanneman @Slayer, the #goldengods will be dedicated to Jeff & his legendary riffs!
IN FLAMES: We are so devasted to hear about the passing of Jeff Hanneman. One of the greatest have passed on and please,...
EDDIE TRUNK: Tragic news of @Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman passing away
DUFF McKAGEN: Jeff Hanneman of @Slayer RIP. Wow. I'm so very soory for your loss Hanneman family.