A Homage to the Late Jeff Hanneman

Jeff Hanneman

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The Legacy of a Legend

Jeff Hanneman, co-founding guitarist of the legendary thrash metal band Slayer, was pronounced deceased as of 11:00 AM, May 2nd, 2013.

Jeff Hanneman
Jeff Hanneman

The 49 year old guitarist had been frequenting hospitals since 2011 to treat his case of necrotizing fasciitis – an uncommon skin disease he’d contracted from a spider bite. During his last visit to the hospital, Hanneman’s liver had failed and ultimately claimed his life. It’s currently unknown whether the two illnesses are linked or if it was just a freakish coincidence.

He’s survived by his wife Kathy, his sister Kathy, and his brothers Michael and Larry.


Hanneman had co-founded Slayer in 1981 alongside fellow guitarist Kerry King. The latter was auditioning for another band and the two had started talking after the sessions and concluded they should start their own band. Thus Slayer was born. Jeff Hanneman had, for a brief period tinkered with a side punk band called Pap Smear which lasted for just a couple of years.

In the better interest of Slayer he had backed out of Pap Smear before anything really came from it and he later used a couple of the songs that were pieced together on the 1996 album Undisputed Attitude. Apart from that Slayer’s been the only band he was known for working in and apart from the past couple of years he’s been heavily involved since day 1.

His guitar style was often dark and eerie to match the oft dark subject material the band wrote about, and the technically proficient solos between him and King coupled with the crushing rhythm guitars rocketed the band to success and solidified their place in metal history.

On top of that Slayer remains one of the few metal bands to have had almost no lineup changes. Apart from one drummer change and a handful of touring musicians, Slayer has been very much untarnished for their 32 year career. Jeff Hanneman played an integral role in writing the music and lyrics for what would amount to 10 studio albums, 2 live albums, 1 cover album, and 1 live DVD.

And if there’s anything that we’ve learned from Slayer it comes from their documentary.

An Editor’s Note

Even as I’m writing this I still can’t entirely believe it’s a reality. It’s unfortunate that one of the most influential metal guitarists has been lost to the sands of time and on behalf of Guitar-Muse and metal heads everywhere we extend our condolences to the family and friends of Jeff Hanneman.


These are personal favorite Slayer songs written by Hanneman, and some of their more famous songs in general.


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Kyle Smitchens

Kyle Smitchens is the Guitar-Muse Managing Editor, super hero extraordinaire, and all around great guy. He has been playing guitar since his late teens and writing personal biographies almost as long. An appreciator of all music, his biggest influences include Tchaikovsky, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Steve Vai, Therion, and Jon Levasseur of Cryptopsy.

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