So, another dead rock star. This time it’s Jeff Hannemann, the good one from Slayer. You’ll already know about this of course, so it seems entirely unnecessary to repeat the press statement everyone else has lifted from the Facebook page and repeated in solemn tones, as if they are breaking actual real life news.
However, it bears comment.
Slayer are, or were, the band who took the macho posturing of everything in metal that came before them, and cranked it up to its logical and technical conclusion. Growing up, it seemed to me Jeff Hannemann was the quiet one of the group, possessed not of the gargantuan ego of Kerry King, nor the oddball timidity of Tom ‘Smiley’ Araya.
But if you look at the writing credits for most Slayer output—and most certainly their best work—you’ll find his name there as the creator. He wrote all those breakneck riffs and brilliant songs that gave birth to… well, basically everything that’s happened since. Angel of Death, Raining Blood, South of Heaven; all the work of the quiet one of the band, the one who seemed the most like a normal dude—albeit a giant who looked like he could fight a grizzly bear.
He probably has more claim than any guitarist since Tony Iommi to have shaped the world of modern metal, and although Slayer’s last few albums have been about as appetising as a G&T served in a toilet bowl, you’ll be hard pressed to find many heavy metal fans who don’t have at least a sneaking admiration for Slaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayer.
But you knew all this, obviously. I’m giving you zero new information. That’s okay though, because nobody else is, either. We’re all just kicking our heels and declaring this news to be ‘shitty’. It is, though. 49 is no age to go, especially not when your band are still going strong (ish).
But part of me wonders if, unpleasant as it doubtless must have been, Jeff wouldn’t have appreciated that getting bitten by a spider and then contracting a flesh eating disease which eventually kills you is just about the most Slayer way to die that you can possibly imagine.
RIP Jeff Hannemann.