ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT MUSIC Pop & Hiss

Founding Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman dies

This post has been updated, please see below for details.

Jeff Hanneman, founding guitarist of the thrash metal band Slayer whose furious riffs and chaotic bursts of power chords helped drive a revolution in heavy metal, has died, the band announced via Facebook on Thursday. Hanneman, who had been taking a break from the band to recover from an illness that affected his liver, died of liver failure, according to the announcement.

Hanneman, 49, was raised in Long Beach, and had been battling an ailment thought to be caused by a spider bite. The band's statement on Facebook read:

“Slayer is devastated to inform that their band mate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11AM 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.”

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Slayer formed in Huntington Park in the early '80s when Hanneman and fellow guitarist Kerry King joined forces. In 2011 while on tour, Hanneman landed in a hospital emergency room with an undisclosed illness.

The band offered an update recently on its website: 

“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...”

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Pop & Hiss will keep you updated as we learn more. Below, watch a small sample of the power Slayer could deliver in this live performance of its classic "Raining Blood."

Update May 2, 6:26 p.m.: An earlier version of this post indicated the above message on Slayer's website was posted yesterday. It occurred on May 1, 2012. Also, the original post said that Slayer formed in Huntington Beach. They formed in Huntington Park. 

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