MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson (pictured below) has paid tribute to SLAYER guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who passed away on May 2 from liver failure at the age of 49.
In a statement to LA Weekly, Ellefson said: “Jeff was a low-key public figure, but behind the scenes he was the engine that drove the machine of SLAYER‘s music. His riffs, lyrics and fascinations with dark topics were so extreme that they were taboo even within metal music! But, because he dared to go there, he and the band became legend to fans everywhere. Behind all the bravado of SLAYER‘s image and music, I knew Jeff as a kind and jovial man who always shared a laugh whenever we saw each other on tour together. He always struck me as someone who had his act together off the stage and as a result we would talk our personal and family lives away from music. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke, his words had impact.”
Hanneman had actually not been playing with SLAYER for more than two years since he contracted necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease, from a spider bite in his backyard in January 2011. The infection ravaged the flesh and tissues of Hanneman‘s arm, leading to numerous surgeries, skin grafts and intense periods of rehab that forced him into semi-retirement and left him near death at several points.
Hanneman‘s last appearance with SLAYER was in April 2011, when he played an encore with the band at the “Big Four” concert in Indio, California.
It is not clear whether the cause of his death was linked to his struggle with the flesh-eating infection.