Jeff Hanneman, guitarist and founding member of heavy metal band Slayer, passed away on Thursday, May 2, at the age of 49. The band announced his passing via official Facebook page on Thursday evening. The announcement read, "Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11 A.M. this morning near his Southern California home."
According to the statement, the Grammy-winning guitarist died because of liver failure when he was in a hospital area. He was survived by his wife Kathy, his sister Kathy and his brothers Michael and Larry.
Fellow musicians took to Twitter to mourn his passing. David Draiman from Disturbed wrote, "RIP TO A TITAN OF METAL." In addition, Guns N' Roses' guitarist Slash tweeted, "Tragic & shocking news about Jeff Hanneman. He is going to missed by so many. What a sad day for Metal. RIP man."
Hanneman and guitarist Kerry King founded Slayer in 1981 in Huntington Park, California. The band, along with Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax, are regarded as "Big Four" of the genre. Hanneman co-wrote "Angel of Death" and "Raining Blood" from Slayer's hit album "Reign in Blood" in 1986. He also contributed to the band's popular songs such as "South of Heaven" and "War Ensemble".
Hanneman put his musical activities on hold after he suffered necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease, in 2011. Doctors believed that the disease was probably caused by spider bite. According to the band's official site, his condition was so serious that the guitarist almost lost his hand. He was put in medicine-induced coma and underwent several surgeries to remove dead tissues on his arm.
He had been recovering from the disease, but he did not fully return to the band. According to Rolling Stone, Hanneman's last appearance with the band was during the Big Four Festival in Indio, California, on April 23, 2011.