Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman Reigned in Blood, Now He Rests in Peace

The pioneering thrash metal guitarist passed away after a long battle with illness.

The pioneering thrash metal guitarist passed away after a long battle with illness.

Photo: Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

Of the “Big Four” thrash metal bands — Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer — it was the latter who proved heaviest, fastest and thrashiest, inspiring legions of young metalheads to rock out over the band’s three-decade career. And while the death of guitarist Jeff Hanneman didn’t exactly come as a surprise — he’d been on hiatus from the band since 2011 — it’s still sparked an outpouring of remembrances from fellow musicians and fans around the world. Hanneman, who formed the band with fellow guitarist Kerry King in 1983, contracted the awful (and weirdly metal-sounding) flesh-eating disease necrotizing fasciitis two years years ago, likely from a spider bite. He was placed briefly in a medically induced coma and nearly lost an arm, before finally succumbing to liver failure.

Clad in his signature Oakland Raiders jersey, and shredding his custom Heineken guitar (on which the beer’s name was changed to “Hanneman”), he cut a ferocious, striking figure. Raised in a military family in Southern California, he had a lifelong fascination with war, a fact reflected in the lyrics he wrote for the band. But, in a weird mixture of Spinal Tap and Best in Show, he and his wife also entered their dogs in shows as a hobby. But don’t be fooled, he was as hard as they come, a metal legend who will be missed. Below, check out five of his greatest hits. RIP.

“Angel of Death”

“South of Heaven”

“War Ensemble”


“Raining Blood”

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