SLAYER‘s estranged drummer Dave Lombardo has paid tribute to the band’s guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who passed away on Thursday (May 2) from liver failure at the age of 49.
Said Lombardo: “This picture [see below] was taken at the Troubadour in Hollywood around 1982.
“Jeff was the guy that shaved his head and shared the music he was so inspired by. I enjoyed DEAD KENNEDYS, CIRCLE JERKS, BLACK FLAG and THE GERMS with him.
“My drumming was getting faster and Jeff was writing original songs with a punk attitude.
“The fusion of heavy metal and punk took over SLAYER‘s early mediocre style, hence a new force was born.
“Thank you, Jeff, for your inspiring discovery of punk rock that has continued to shape my personal drumming style.”
Lombardo sat out SLAYER‘s recent Australian tour due to a contract dispute with the other members of the group. Filling in for him was Jon Dette (TESTAMENT, ANTHRAX).
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.
Hanneman recalled in a 2011 interview with Classic Rock magazine that he initially didn’t even feel the spider bite, adding, “But an hour later, I knew that I was ill. I could see the flesh corrupting. The arm was real hot. I got to the emergency room, and thank god the nurse knew straight away what it was . . . At that point, I was an hour away from death.”
SLAYER was founded in 1981 in Los Angeles and went on to become one of most popular bands of the speed/thrash metal movement, eventually being considered one of the “Big Four” alongside METALLICA, MEGADETH and ANTHRAX.
While never a band that got any substantial radio airplay, the group has long been considered a major influence on the metal genre and acclaimed as one of the best live metal acts of the past 30 years.
SLAYER guitarist Kerry King received a huge ovation from the crowd at the Revolver Golden Gods awards show on May 2 at Club Nokia in Los Angeles, where he said that Hanneman would have wanted “noise” rather than a moment of silence and then drank two shots in his bandmate’s honor.