Slayer: Read Dave Lombardo’s Moving Tribute to Jeff Hanneman

  • Axl Rosenberg

Former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo has penned a tribute to late guitarist Jeff Hanneman for Metal Hammer.  Hanneman, we’re sure we don’t have to tell you, passed away in 2013, when he was 49-years-old, from liver failure. Needless to say, the tribute is chock full of great stories, observations, and revelations. Speaking about Hanneman as a musician, for example, Lombardo writes…

“What a lot of people don’t know is that Jeff was the least musically educated and least musically trained in the band. He was a novice when he joined. I’d been in two or three bands before that, but Slayer was his first. He didn’t know much, but he slowly developed and played and taught himself. It was, like, ‘Wow, dude, you forged that path, you did it yourself.’”

“He was the one who would create his own demos for the songs he was writing. He’d program the drum machine, he would have the parts already figured out in his mind, which was different to how Kerry would present his songs. I remember him commenting on my drum parts. He’d say, ‘Ooh, I like that, that’s tasty – make it tastier.’ Or if I came up with a typical rock drum beat, he would classify that as being ‘cheesy’. It had to be cutting edge to make it on the record. It had to be ‘tasty’.”

Lombardo also speaks candidly about Hanneman’s alcoholism (“[Jeff’s] passion was dampened by toxins, but it was still there”), as well as the near-fatal spider bite Hanneman suffered in 2011, which severely damaged his arm and limited his ability to play (and by extension, according to his widow, exacerbated his drinking problem):

“Towards the end of his time in Slayer, [Jeff] had gotten to a point where his performance wasn’t up to par with the rest of the band. The alcohol was taking its toll, and so were the operations he had had. It was sad, but we had to make the decision and break the news to him. I know that it crushed him.”

The most interesting bit, though, may be Lombardo’s opinion as to which of Hanneman’s many, many contributions to Slayer is the most Hannemanimalistic:

“If there’s a single Slayer song that really defines Jeff, it’s ‘Necrophobic’ from Reign in Blood. That was one of the fastest songs we’d done: it had this aggressive, brutal, almost monotonous sound. He’d walk around, just mimicking that sound. I remember him going, ‘This one’s fast, it’s brutal, we’re going to take it to the limit, to the point where we can’t play it any faster.’ And that’s what we did.”

Every Slayer fan is gonna wanna read this from start to finish. You can do so here.

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