Slayer Guitarist Dies: Jeff Hanneman, Heavy Metal Pioneer, Was 49 (Video)

Image: Slayer Guitarist Dies: Jeff Hanneman, Heavy Metal Pioneer, Was 49 (Video)

Friday, 03 May 2013 10:06 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Jeff Hanneman, the founding member and guitarist of thrash metal band Slayer, died Thursday in Southern California of liver failure. He was 49.

"Slayer is devastated to inform that their band mate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11 a.m. this morning near his Southern California home," the band announced on its Facebook page Thursday. "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."

Slayer was formed in the early '80s in Huntington Park, Calif., by Hanneman and fellow guitarist Kerry King. The band rose to mainstream fame with their 1986 release "Reign in Blood," and is credited as one of the Big Four thrash metal acts, along with Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax.

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Hanneman wrote many of the band's big hits, including "Angel of Death," "South of Heaven," "Raining Blood," and "War Ensemble."

Hanneman had been on hiatus from Slayer since 2011, when he contracted necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease that doctors think may have been caused by a spider bite.

After almost losing his arm, being placed in a medically induced coma for a few days, and undergoing multiple skin grafts, Hanneman had been rehabbing his injured arm and relearning how to play the guitar, according to a recent update on the band's website.

When Hanneman was forced to go on hiatus, Exodus guitarist and fellow thrash pioneer Gary Holt took his place. Hanneman's final appearance with Slayer was a surprise cameo during the encore of the Big Four Festival in Indio, Calif., on April 23, 2011.

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