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OpEd

Spirit In Metal: A Tribute To Slayer Guitarist, Jeff Hanneman

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Band Photo: Slayer (?)

Yesterday, the news broke that the world of heavy metal had lost a true giant. The death of Slayer guitarist, Jeff Hanneman was a shock to many followers of metal, and especially for fans of the band, who are known to be amongst the most manically devoted in the history of music.

Almost immediately after people learned of the news, fans of Jeff and Slayer celebrated in a fashion befitting of the man: By getting drunk and blasting "Reign In Blood" as loud as they could. Hanneman's death is arguably the hardest hitting news since Ronnie James Dio passed away three years ago, and perhaps the biggest shock to thrash fans since Metallica bass player Cliff Burton was killed in an automobile accident in 1986, and at only 49 years of age, he will be considered by many to have been taken from us too soon.

Jeff Hanneman's journey began on January 31st 1964, when he was born in Oakland, California to a German father who fought for the Allies in the Second World War. This, along with the participation of his brothers in the Vietnam war, forged a lifelong interest in all things military for Jeff, a subject he would regularly cover in his lyrical contributions to Slayer. In 1981, Hanneman went to audition for a local band where he met another young guitarist named Kerry King. The two got on well and began jamming covers of songs by the likes of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, before deciding to form their own band, the lineup of which was completed by the addition of King's former Quits bandmate Tom Araya, and pizza delivery guy, Dave Lombardo. Hanneman stated that one of his favourite memories of the early days was whenever people booed them, assured by his confidence to actually get on stage and perform. Of the four members, he was the one who enjoyed punk music the most, a genre he claimed he "forced" onto Dave Lombardo to the point where in 1984, the two of them, along with future Suicidal Tendencies guitarist Rocky George, formed a punk band named, Pap Smear, which folded a year later on the advice of producer, Rick Rubin.

His contributions to Slayer would prove to be massive, as he wrote or co-wrote many of the classics in the group's catalogue, forming a good writing partnership with frontman, Tom Araya. Some of the songs he penned included, "Raining Blood," "Angel of Death," "South of Heaven" and "Mandatory Suicide." His stage presence was also memorable, despite it being a relatively simple one. In much the same way one can instantly recognise the arched figure of Motorhead frontman, Lemmy or the posing tilt of Megadeth's, Dave Mustaine, Jeff Hanneman's messy blonde hair, helped along by rhythmic headbanging and interspersed with a warlike expression towards the audience, made him a real fixation on stage.

In the past two years, Hanneman had been suffering from ill health, which doctors put down to being bitten by a spider. The bite caused Necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria syndrome) and meant he was forced to sit out while Slayer toured with a replacement, with his position most often being filled by Exodus guitarist, Gary Holt. According to Tom Araya, Hanneman had recovered from the disease by February of last year, but Kerry King stated afterwards that other health problems were preventing him from returning to the band.

Sadly, these health issues mounted and yesterday morning, Jeff Hanneman passed away in a hospital near his home in Southern California. At the moment however, it should not be dwelled upon what caused his death, and instead fans should reflect on the life and career, of one of the most gifted musicians in the history of thrash metal, whose songs gave an outlet of aggression for many of us.

Jeff Hanneman
January 31st 1964 - May 2nd 2013

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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22 Comments on "Spirit In Metal: A Tribute To Jeff Hanneman"

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R10's avatar

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1. R10 writes:

Good tribute Oz. Yes, stunned i was yesterday, never saw it coming. Hit me harder than the passing of RJD, only because prior to Dio's passing, i'd heard he was in the hospital again. I'm putting Hannemans passing right up there with Cliff Burtons, total shocker! And yes, i've been cranking the Slayer today, knocking a few back in tribute. Have listened to them since highschool, 1985. NP- Seasons in the Abyss- the mighty Slayer

# May 3, 2013 @ 6:38 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
2. stevetor888 writes:

Jeff, the ever quiet one of the band.Never did NAMM shows or many public appearances. Kept to himself. Tom and Kerry skipped around his illness. I was shocked but not too much because of what had been said.This news does suck.

# May 3, 2013 @ 7:00 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
3. necro vomit writes:

That was a beautiful tribute oz. when I get paid im gonna score a sixer of heinekin and blast slayer all day

# May 3, 2013 @ 7:00 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
silvermountains's avatar

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4. silvermountains writes:

great article Oz.

# May 3, 2013 @ 7:04 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
5. HOCF writes:

I was shocked and am in total "awe". Slayer has been and always will be one of my favorite metal bands, without Jeff though it is like trying to drive a car with 3 wheels. Wish the best for his band mates and family. R.I.P. JH.

# May 3, 2013 @ 7:54 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
BrianMN's avatar

Member

6. BrianMN writes:

I was hoping you'd do an article....perfect.
Thanks.

# May 3, 2013 @ 8:19 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

7. Diamond Oz writes:

Thanks for the compliments guys. I'm glad you felt I did a good job paying tribute to a legend.

# May 3, 2013 @ 8:20 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
8. I'm not Jesus Christ writes:

Jeff was a nice guy. I'm glad I got to see Slayer when he was still in the band. I last saw them with Jeff back in 2010 when they were touring with Megadeth and Testament.

# May 4, 2013 @ 9:46 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
9. RichH72 writes:

Been a huge fan since 85. Amazing to remember how instantly I was captivated the first time hearing them. Rarely has a day gone by not putting on some Slayer. From long haired 14 year old kid to 41 year old balding father, Slayer has always and will always be a part my life. Thanks Guys and RIP Jeff.

# May 4, 2013 @ 10:21 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
WOLF7's avatar

Member

10. WOLF7 writes:

Great job as always, OZ.

When I read about Hanneman's passing on Friday morning, my first reaction was "this is the most disgusting prank ever". Sadly, it wasn't one.

To me Hanneman's death is on par with Dime's tragic passing. I was just shocked and I still am.
No offense to anyone, but if I hadn't seen the news on Slayer's own website, I wouln't have believed it. Especially as Hanneman had this "immortal" feel about him. He didn't seem to age, nor be affected by much of anything.

But in retrospect, if you have a flesh eating disease, when you really think of it, how would anyone imagine it will all end? This is a disease that's literally eating you.
The damage a disease like that does to the organs is just devastating.

Just another reminder that we're just visiting this earth, not to stay.

On a positive note, I have to say I am extremely pleased that here at MU the comments on Hanneman's death have been respectful. None of the "if you have an album called 'God Hates Us All' ..." well, you know what I mean.

What can you say? "No one here gets out alive" as our Jimbo once put it. When the Boatman says "you're coming with us", we are going, no choice.

# May 4, 2013 @ 7:02 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

11. Diamond Oz writes:

Cheers Wolf, always a pleasure to hear from you.

And yes, it's been nice that more or less every comment regarding the news of Hanneman's passing has been respectful, none of that "Slayer are crap anyway" bait.

# May 4, 2013 @ 7:09 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
12. christianOnBass writes:

I am shocked. This is truly a sad day for Metal, and for Metal fans. I am happy to have seen Slayer many times since the 80s. They were fantastic live! Jeff, thank you Brother, for blessing us with your incredible talent.

# May 4, 2013 @ 7:43 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
13. Spirit In Black writes:

Well written Oz. May he Reign In Peace. Sad day for all metal fans.

# May 5, 2013 @ 1:45 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Malevolent6's avatar

Member

14. Malevolent6 writes:

RIP Jeff Hanneman

Thanks for bringing me the music and the inspiration for what i have wanted to do in my life, playing music and writing demented peons

# May 5, 2013 @ 11:53 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Blindgreed1's avatar

Member

15. Blindgreed1 writes:

Oz... I love you man.

# May 6, 2013 @ 1:07 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

16. Diamond Oz writes:

And I've grown fond of you ;)

# May 6, 2013 @ 1:42 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
17. dipto writes:

the man who lived in dream is not a man but who shows us
dream is a real man may you rest in peace jeff hannenman

# May 13, 2013 @ 7:14 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
18. MY FIANCEE IS A CUNT writes:

RIP HANNEMAN!

# May 13, 2013 @ 5:38 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Drum_Junkie's avatar

Member

19. Drum_Junkie writes:

Sir Hanneman, you are dearly missed. Your passing brings a solemn end to a great era of metal. Slayer hasn't been and will never be the same without you.

# May 14, 2013 @ 12:22 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
20. nathan bookman jr writes:

Linking slayer and the term spirit, no irony there.
Rip jeff.

# May 15, 2013 @ 9:36 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
21. haleymonster138 writes:

The autopsy confirmed that his death was not related to the spider bite, but to liver failure due to alcohol. Perhaps he was depressed that his rehab wasn't coming along as he had hoped and got heavier into drinking as he had time to just sit at home everyday. This is a great loss to a true thrash metal pioneer. RIP

# May 21, 2013 @ 4:22 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
22. Upperclass Twit writes:

Not to be a douche, but haleymonster should spend a little more time researching liver failure before posting up an opinion. Liver failure from alcohol takes a LOT longer than 2 years to cause death. Necrotizing fasciitis is more likely the catalyst in his liver failure.

# May 22, 2013 @ 4:11 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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