Jeff Hanneman, Slayer guitarist, dies from liver disease at 49

Guitarist Jeff Hanneman, the co-founder of thrash-metal gods Slayer, died Thursday in California at age 49. The cause of death was liver failure. He had been recovering from a flesh-eating virus brought on by a spider bite.

"As you know, Jeff was bitten by a spider more than a year ago, but what you may not have known was that for a couple of days after he went to the ER, things were touch-and-go," reads a statement on the band's official website, which had been posted prior to Mr. Hanneman's death. "There was talk that he might have to have his arm amputated, and we didn't know if he was going to pull through at all. He was in a medically-induced coma for a few days and had several operations to remove the dead and dying tissue from his arm. So, understand, he was in really, really bad shape."

Mr. Hanneman founded Slayer with Kerry King in the early 1980s in Los Angeles. Along with Anthrax, Metallica and Megadeth, the group was considered one of the founders of the thrash-metal scene. The band's 1986 album Reign in Blood is a classic representation of the sound. Gary Holt, who had been filling in for Mr. Hanneman, is expected to join the band fulltime now.

[Last modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 8:55am]

    

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