Founding member of metal band Slayer
Jeff Hanneman, 49, a guitarist and founding member of the thrash metal band Slayer whose career was irrevocably changed after a spider bite, died Thursday of liver failure at a Los Angeles hospital, according to spokeswoman Heidi Robinson-Fitzgerald.
Hanneman was born Jan. 31, 1964, in Oakland and co-founded the speed metal pioneers in Huntington Park in the early 1980s. He and Kerry King played screaming guitars, vocalist Tom Araya played bass and Dave Lombardo played drums (Paul Bostaph later replaced Lombardo). The group's first two albums, "Show No Mercy" and "Hell Awaits," featured "undiluted blasts of pure white metallic noise," according to the Encyclopedia of Pop Music.
"Rock 'n' roll was never supposed to be polite," Hanneman said in a 1988 interview with The Times' pop music critic, Robert Hilburn. "Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith weren't polite. They were against the grain. And that's what we want our music to be: rude, aggressive ... like real life."
That was two years after Slayer's breakthrough album "Reign in Blood," which featured such song titles as "Necrophobic" and "Raining Blood."
"We write the songs that we do because that's what we like," Hanneman told Hilburn. "But they are just stories — not things we actually do or recommend anyone else go out and do. Take the song 'Piece by Piece,' about chopping up somebody. To us, it's like a horror movie. It's fun because [the songs and movies] shock you. The kids get into it on the same level we do. They know it is just a story and just fun."
The guitarist had recently begun writing songs with the band in anticipation of recording a new album later this year. He had been slowly recovering from a flesh-eating bacterial disease believed to be the result of a spider bite that nearly cost him his arm after he failed to seek immediate treatment.
Robinson-Fitzgerald said it's believed that the 2011 spider bite contributed to the failure of Hanneman's liver, but it is unclear whether an autopsy will be scheduled.
Urban Leonard 'Ben' Drew
1st Allied pilot to shoot down 2 German jets in combat
Urban Leonard "Ben" Drew, 89, who became the first Allied pilot to shoot down two German jets in combat during World War II, died April 3 at his home in Vista of complications from pneumonia, said his son, David Michael Drew.
He accomplished the feat on a single mission over Germany in October 1944 while piloting a P-51 Mustang fighter nicknamed "Detroit Miss" for his hometown. Concrete evidence of the exploit was scant — a gun camera that would have documented the events jammed, and Ryan's wingman was shot down and held as a prisoner of war.
Nearly 39 years later, Ryan received the Air Force Cross in recognition of the mission after his account of the event was confirmed by both U.S. and German military archives. The medal honors extraordinary heroism and valor in combat.
FOR THE RECORD:
Urban Drew: A news obituary of World War II ace Urban Drew in the May 6 LATExtra section incorrectly identified him twice in the story as Ryan.