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Cause of Jeff Hanneman’s Death Revealed; Slayer Plan Celebration of His Life, Intend to Embark on European Tour

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Slayer Hanneman RIP

Slayer released not one but two separate statements late this afternoon, revealing several key pieces of information.

I’m going to publish the second statement first because I have much less to say about it. That statement follows in full:

While the details are being worked out now, Slayer wants its fans to know that there will be a celebration of Jeff Hanneman’s life sometime later this month, along with Jeff’s family and friends, the public will be invited to attend. More information will be posted here soon.

Kerry King and Tom Araya are trying to deal with the loss of their brother by remembering some the good times they shared.

KERRY: “I had so many great times with Jeff…in the early days when we were out on the road, he and I were the night owls, we would stay up all night on the bus, just hanging out, talking, watching movies…World War II movies, horror movies, we watched “Full Metal Jacket” so many times, we could practically recite all of the dialogue.”

TOM: “When we first formed Slayer, we used to rehearse all the time, religiously, 24/7. Jeff and I spent a lot of time hanging out together, he lived in my father’s garage which was also our rehearsal space. When he got his own apartment, he had an 8-track and I would go there to record songs I’d written, not Slayer songs, other stuff I’d written. At a certain point, you still have the band but you start your own lives outside of the band, so that 24/7 falls to the side, you don’t spend as much time together as you once did. I miss those early days.”

KERRY: “He was a gigantic World War II buff, his father served in that war, so when Slayer played Russia for the first time – I think it was 1998 – Jeff and I went to one of Moscow’s military museums. I’ll never forget him walking around that place, looking at all of the tanks, weapons and other exhibits. He was like a kid on Christmas morning. But that was Jeff’s thing, he knew so much about WW II history, he could have taught it in school.”

TOM: “We were in New York recording South of Heaven. Jeff and I were at the hotel and we had to get to the studio – I think it was called Chung King, a real rundown place. So we left the hotel and decided to walk, but then it started raining. We walked maybe five blocks, and it was raining so hard, we were totally soaked, so we decided to get a cab. Here we are, two dudes with long hair and leather jackets, absolutely soaked, thumbing to the studio. No one would stop. We had to walk the entire way.”

TOM: “Jeff was a lifeline of Slayer, he wrote so many of the songs that the band will always be known for. He had a good heart, he was a good guy.”

*****

We’ve just learned that the official cause of Jeff’s death was alcohol related cirrhosis. While he had his health struggles over the years, including the recent Necrotizing fasciitis infection that devastated his well-being, Jeff and those close to him were not aware of the true extent of his liver condition until the last days of his life. Contrary to some reports, Jeff was not on a transplant list at the time of his passing, or at any time prior to that. In fact, by all accounts, it appeared that he had been improving – he was excited and looking forward to working on a new record.

The cause of Hanneman’s death at too young of an age isn’t surprising; it was never a secret that Hanneman liked to drink… I mean, just look at the guitar he’s holding in the photo up top (and I’m not judging him, by the way — my house is made of far too much glass to throw stones in this case — I’m just stating facts). But it’s still incredibly sad. A celebration of Hanneman’s life is certainly called for, and given his stature within the community, I would imagine it’s going to attract all kinds of royalty from the metal world and will be a very special event indeed. Above all, I hope that Dave Lombardo gets to participate in some capacity — because he didn’t get to participate in this update (he released one of his own yesterday).

Now here’s the first statement, which, I imagine, is going to be significantly more divisive amongst Slayer fans:

“We know that our fans everywhere are hurting for the loss of Jeff just as we are. We want to let you all know that when we come to Europe this summer in June, July and August, we’ll ALL be making noise together for our brother and dear friend Jeff… We’ll See you then!”

I’ve already made my feelings about fifty percent of Slayer touring clear, but Hanneman’s death obviously changes the context in a major way. I can see the argument that the best way to celebrate Hanneman’s legacy is to continue to play his music… but that doesn’t really change the fact that when you say “Slayer,” people think of Tom Araya, Kerry King, Jeff Hanneman, and Dave Lombardo — not Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt, and Jon Dette (or whomever plays drums on the Euro tour). Especially since Hanneman really was responsible for pretty much all of the definitive Slayer songs.

Maybe if Araya, King, Lombardo and Holt did some kind of Death to All-style tribute tour or farewell tour, this would sit better with me. But as it stands… I’m sorry, I just don’t think that Araya, King, and two other dudes is Slayer. It’s a sad fact of life that sometimes certain musicians are ultimately expendable to the band in which they play. But Hanneman wasn’t one of those musicians.

Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below.

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