Remembering Jeff Hanneman Two Years Later
Tomorrow marks two years since the death of Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman. Hanneman passed away due to cirrhosis of the liver, which was partly caused by a spider bite and the necrotizing fasciitis that followed. He was 49.
Hanneman was an interesting figure within Slayer. He wasn’t a face-forward figurehead of metal like Kerry King or a surprisingly laid-back dad like Tom Araya. Instead, Hanneman was the punk, the guy who was succinct and funny in interviews and a madman at the afterparty (if you get a chance, read D.X. Ferris’ 33 1/3 on Reign in Blood; there’s a great story about Jeff slapping someone in the head with a slice of cheese). He collected Nazi memorabilia, had a Heineken sponsorship, and wrote the majority of the band’s most lauded material.
For many metalheads, this writer included, Slayer are the most important band in the world. They were cool beyond description, both listenable and utterly extreme. They appealed to the dark misfits, who never made it huge and were content not to. Jeff Hanneman epitomized that by being less of a public representative of the band. It seemed like he just wanted to write about war, death, madness, and the Devil. He was the spirit in black inside us all.
The idea of a new Slayer album without Hanneman’s involvement is a little jarring. Though Slayer continues onward with its new line-up, there is an understanding that the band is missing Hanneman. His name is displayed twenty-feet tall in the middle of a Heineken logo every performance. No doubt the album will be dedicated to him.
Below is a playlist of Hanneman’s finest songs as both writer and lyricist. They stand as the ultimate testament to the man’s ability and legacy, because let’s face it, there is one song on this mix that every metal fan lives for. In that respect, he remains with us still, a ghost of war.
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