Video: Slayer perform Disciple Live @ Sonisphere Festival, Sofia, Bulgaria , 22 June 2010 (Big 4 DVD)
What a shit few weeks it’s been in the world of metal and rock. We lost bass player Chi Cheng of Deftones (heart failure), the best rock chick in Oz – Chrissy Amphlett of The Divinyls (breast cancer & MS), and today we have lost epic guitarist and founding member of Slayer, Jeff Hanneman due to liver failure while in hospital in California.
I can only imagine how heartbreaking it would be for Kerry, Tom & Dave after 31 long years to lose your lifetime mate in music. Voted as one of the Top 10 Metal Guitarists of All Time by Guitar World back in 2004 it’s no surprise Jeff was very loved and respected in the metal community.
Photo: Jeff Hanneman of Slayer performing live on 8 October 2010. Photo by: Dena Flows (Flickr)
I personally have witnessed the reverence fans have for seeing Slayer some 31 years after they first formed at Soundwave 2013. Every metal fan wants to see Slayer perform live at least once such has been their contribution to metal, and it seems like every 3 out of 4 metal heads love Slayer (I have no statistics, but ask your friends!).
Last we heard Jeff had been off the Slayer tour bus recovering from a serious spider bite on his arm that required significant skin grafts and rehab in order for Jeff to be able to play guitar professionally ever again. Fuck you spiders!
Slayer formed in 1982 and Jeff and Kerry King generally contributed to the majority of the writing of Slayer’s frenetic thrash metal throughout the years (aided by Dave Lombardo and Tom Araya). It will be difficult to fathom a new Slayer album release after Jeff’s untimely death at the age of 49, however according to band interviews pre-Soundwave 2013 there was a new Slayer album in the pipeline.
I’m glad that I was able to see Jeff play guitar with Slayer in 2009 when they co-headlined a gig with Megadeth at Festival Hall, Melbourne for the World Painted Blood Tour. They played a short but sweet one hour set that I heavily enjoyed despite Tom battling through severe laryngitis which meant he kept his vocal performance to a minimum. Given that Slayer had to cancel their Adelaide show as a result of the same illness I was thankful Tom even made it out on stage (and he could barely speak when trying to acknowledge the crowd!).
The last two Slayer tours of Australia saw Gary Holt (Exodus) on guitar for Jeff while he was recovering at home. We were all probably hoping that the Slayer lineup would return to normal some day (once they kissed and made up with Dave) but sadly that no longer is a possibility.
It’s befitting that Jeff’s final performance in Slayer was during a Big 4 gig on the 23 April 2011 in Indio, California when he joined the band during an encore. He played on two songs in the encore – South of Heaven and Angel of Death. Backstage after the show he reportedly said “I’m the happiest man in the world!”
I hope eveyone in the crowd that night enjoyed that moment.
A god of metal has left us and thus it’s now time to grab a drink, turn up your fucking stereo, and raise your metal horns for Jeff!