UG looks back at the life of the influential metal guitarist who died last night aged 49.
Posted on May 04, 2013 09:01 am
As previously reported, Slayer guitarist and co-founder Jeff Hanneman died yesterday on May 2 of liver failure, aged 49.
The Grammy-winning performer was one of the most influential in metal culture, and tributes from fans and musicians alike have been pouring in.
Jeff was born in 1964 and grew up in Long Beach, California in a military family who enjoyed war films and making models of tanks. His father was German, though Jeff maintains that he fought for the allies in World War II.
Little else is known about Jeff's childhood, but a turning point in his youth was when he met future Slayer co-founders Kerry King and Tom Araya in 1981. The pair jammed Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs and decided to start their own band, starting with a punk project called "Pap Smear" featuring drummer Dave Lombardo on drums, but future Slayer producer Rick Rubin warned them against continuing the project. Jeff agreed, and eventually used two songs from the project on Slayer's 1996 release "Undisputed Attitude."
The band morphed into what became Slayer, and Metal Blade Records founder Brian Slagel spotted them playing in California and signed them up to his new label.
By late 1984, Kerry King joined Dave Mustaine in Megadeth for s short period. Jeff was concerned that Slayer would need a new guitar player, but King returned after playing only five shows. Soon after they went with their friend Rick Rubin to his new Def Jam Records to record their defining work "Reign in Blood."
Slayer continued to record and tour new albums, and in 1997 Jeff married his wife Kathryn who had been a long-term love interest since the early 1980s. She would never join Jeff on tour, save for two occasions - but Jeff preferred it this way, because when he came home, "she was all brand new again."
Tragedy struck Jeff in 2011, when he contracted the flesh-eating disease necrotizing fasciitis which doctors believe was contracted from a spider bite. With regret, the band were forced to play the shows without him and continue to tour with Gary Holt from Exodus on guitar.
In 2012, the band decided to continue with plans to write a new album without Jeff, whose recovery was slow. It was presumed that Hanneman would eventually recover after therapy, and his fatal liver failure has not been officially linked to his long-term illness.
Jeff is survived by his wife Kathryn, his sister Kathy and his brothers Michael and Larry.
Pay tribute to the life of this great man in the comments, and if there's a moment from his body of work that you want to share, please feel free to paste a YouTube link to the song.