Jeff Hanneman, guitarist and founding member of Slayer, was hospitalized late last month where he underwent emergency surgery on his right arm after contracting a serious infection, according to his band mates Kerry King, Tom Araya and Dave Lombardo.
While Hanneman's doctors were not able to definitively identify the infection's origin, they diagnosed necrotizing fasciitis, and indicated it likely was rooted in a spider bite. The guitarist is now recuperating at home, has already begun the process of subsequent medical procedures including skin grafts, and is expected to make a full recovery.
In light of this situation and Slayer's upcoming participation in the Australian Soundwave Festival tour that is set to kick off on February 26, the band has made the tough decision to play the dates without Hanneman, and will bring on a guest guitarist to fill in for him until such time as he has fully recuperated and is ready to return to the line-up.
The band will announce details about the guest guitarist shortly.
"Jeff is our brother, we've all been friends and together as a band for almost 30 years," said Araya, "so we're all just crushed by this."
"After everything that happened last year," King added, "we all agreed that we just can't let our fans down again," referring to Araya's severe back and neck pain that prompted his January 2010 surgery, unfortunately leading to the band's postponement or cancellation of numerous shows in 2009 and 2010. "So we will tour as planned. But I'll tell you, we can't wait for Jeff to get better and get his ass back on the road."