SLAYER bassist/vocalist Tom Araya, who was born in Viña del Mar, Chile, will return to his birthplace this week receive the key to the city from Mayor Virginia Reginato. This will be Chile’s first official recognition of the musician, who left the country when he was five years old and moved to the U.S. with his family.
Viña del Mar is located 74 miles (120 kilometers) northwest of Santiago and 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of Valparaiso on the Pacific Ocean.
This Friday (June 3), SLAYER will play Viña del Mar for the first time.
Araya reportedly remembers very little of his birthplace which he has only visited a couple of times and for a few days. Therefore, he has decided to use his opportunity to spend more time in Viña del Mar and will stay there for several days with his wife and children. He will also celebrate his 50th birthday at Friday’s concert, having already ordered a birthday cake which he plans to share with the fans at the show. (Araya officially turns 50 on June 6.)
In a 2005 interview, Araya was asked about the Internet rumors that he and his family left Chile due to political unrest. “No. Actually, it was like ’66 when we came over to the States, so that was way before any of that shit started; that happened in ’71 and we were already in the Unites States by that time,” Tom said.
When asked if he has ever gone back to visit Chile, Araya said, “Yeah, yeah — we went back there around the time right after that happened, like 2 or 3 years later. We flew out to go as a family, and it wasn’t bad. It was under a kind of dictatorship, I guess, but I didn’t witness anything stupid going on. Everybody obeyed the laws, and that’s about it. They have police; they’ve got riot police just like they do here. And at shows in areas outside the U.S. sometimes the kids get crazy outside the venue, so different countries use different types of… force [laughs] to discipline people. You know, different countries do different things. I saw some of it but it’s like, ‘Okay, that’s how they do stuff here. I don’t want to get involved and be in the middle of something I know no business of. [Laughs]”