Jeff Hanneman of Slayer Died Ten Years Ago Today


dreamstime_l_14823565 Photo 14823565 Slayer Jeff Hanneman c Tomas Hajek

dreamstime_l_14823565 Photo 14823565 Slayer Jeff Hanneman c Tomas Hajek


Jeff Hanneman, legendary guitarist of Slayer passed away on May 2nd, 2013, ten years ago. Although the band continued for six more years without Jeff, they missed the co-founding Thrash Metal rhythm and lead guitar innovator. Ghost Cult continues to fly the flag of Slayer, high. In the time since he passed, Ghost Cult covered Slayer just as heavily in Jeff’s life, as they released a final studio album with Jeff’s contributions (Repentless), had a legend and friend hold down his spot live (Gary Holt of Exodus), released a comic book with Jeff’s likeness, completed their final world tour ever of two years, released an incredible film/music video trilogy (The Repentless Killogy), former bandmate DaveLombardo wrote a loving tribute to his fallen friend, and we have created two career-spanning retrospectives (read them here and here) on the end of the band. From the time Jeff passed and every night on that final world tour, Slayer honored Jeff during ‘Raining Blood’ with the “still reigning” banner. Hail Jeff and hail Slayer!


“Rock ‘n’ roll was never supposed to be polite.

If you’re living a nice lifestyle and you have no problems, you put on our record…you won’t get it.” — Jeff Hanneman



Ten years ago today, May 2, 2013, thrash metal pioneers Slayer issued the following statement:



“Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11AM this morning near his Southern California home. Hanneman was in an area hospital when he suffered liver failure. He is survived by his wife Kathy [Kathryn], his sister Kathy, and his brothers Michael and Larry, and will be sorely missed.”



Ten years on, Jeff Hanneman, who was only 49 at the time of his passing, continues to be sorely missed.

• “What a sad day for metal. RIP, man.” – Slash

• “RIP brother, you will be missed.” – Zack Wylde

• “RIP Jeff Hanneman.” – Metallica

• “Brutal news about Jeff. Like a punch in the gut.” – Scott Ian

• “RIP to a dedicated Raiders fan.” – Oakland Raiders

• “Sad to hear of Jeff Hanneman’s passing.

RIP.” – Geezer Butler

• “Tonight, one less star will be shining, and sadly, the stage got just a little bit darker.” – Dave Mustaine

• “RIP Jeff Hanneman. You will be greatly missed.” — Gibson Guitars







Excerpted from Ghost Cult’s original Hanneman tribute in 2013:

“I can’t believe I just wrote the words Jeff Hanneman, legendary guitarist of Slayer, passed away; but I did. I really didn’t want to believe it was true and me being ever the skeptic, I was sure Slayer’s Facebook page was hacked and this was a sick joke. But it wasn’t. Jeff Hanneman really passed away yesterday at the young at of 49 from liver failure, with a lot of life in him and many riffs we won’t get to hear.

Jeffrey John Hanneman was born in Oakland, California in 1964, but grew up in the Southern California town of Long Beach. Growing up in a family full of military veterans, including his father, sparked a lifelong fascination with war, warfare and the repercussions of it on society. His curiosity would later lead some to charge Slayer with prejudice and Nazi-ism, but that has all been squashed over time. Even as a young man, Jeff felt the pull of metal and of classic metal bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest which he later bonded with Kerry King over. A young Jeff was drawn to the anger and discontent of early Hardcore Punk bands such as D.R.I, Minor Threat, Discharge, GBH, Bad Brains, Suicidal Tendencies, and his local favorites, T.S.O.L. This left an indelible mark on Jeff’s writing in Slayer, and of course led to the making of the covers album Undisputed Attitude in 1995. In addition to punk covers and one original Slayer song, the album featured four Jeff-penned songs from his aborted punk rock side project/supergroup Pap Smear, which would have featured Dave Lombardo and Rocky George.

Jeff will of course forever be remembered by Slayer fans and fans of thrash metal in general for his lyrics, riffs and solos that punctuate most of the classic band’s most prominent hits. ‘Angel Of Death’ arguably the best and most recognized song of the classic thrash era. Of course also wrote the music and or lyrics to some of the all-time great metal songs such as ‘Raining Blood’, ‘War Ensemble’, ‘Seasons In The Abyss’, ‘South Of Heaven’, ‘Dead Skin Mask’, ‘Disciple’ and many more. What really impresses me thinking about him is how Jeff wrote many of the most underrated songs in the bands’ catalog: songs like ‘Spirit In Black’, ‘Hardening Of the Arteries’, ‘213’, ‘Behind The Crooked Cross’, my personal favorite, ‘Die By The Sword’. He also wrote most of the excellent songs on his last album, World Painted Blood. As a lead guitarist, along with King, he forged a style that broke out of the typical box of typical Pentatonic scale, blues players to play solos that mirrored the chaos of the songs and the subject matter. Doing that style at the height of early 80s shred, was brave stuff for the times, indeed. The sound of his leads will always be unmistakable.

This musical legacy he has left behind is essential to the history of the genre and can never be undone. Jeff was glad to stalk his side of the stage, feel the roar of the wall of amps behind him and the crowd out in front of him going apeshit. He was glad to share the spotlight rather, than muscle into it and take it over. His style was undeniable. His scowling face of hatred and evil joy as he soloed his fingers into oblivion is something I will remember, always.