SLAYER - Jeff Hanneman R.I.P.; BraveWords From "Metal" Tim
May 5, 2013, a year ago
BraveWords staff members remember the late SLAYER guitar legend Jeff Hanneman who tragically passed away suddenly on May 2nd.
By "Metal" Tim Henderson
Man, it had been a really long time since Jeff Hanneman had been on stage with SLAYER. But we all knew he’d be back someday (right?), the band constantly supporting his progress, saying that he was still “in” but recuperating. Seriously, could any of us relate to the diagnosis of “necrotizing fasciitis” (and from a spider bite)? When he made a special appearance at the Big 4 concert in Indio, CA in April 2011, the picture showing the multi-inch wound on his right arm spoke a thousand words. Maybe a million. This man was hit with a bullet that penetrated his armour. And two years-plus of rehab and he still wasn’t in action truly told the true story. But now death? At 49. I almost needed help to pick myself off the floor.
It’s really hard to put in the words the impact Slayer has had on my life and BW&BK since day one. And Jeff Hanneman put such a stamp on the band’s repertoire, particularly Slayer’s triumvirate: namely South Of Heaven, Seasons In The Abyss and the unsurpassed Reign In Blood. People keep talking about this Big 4 thing… really, there’s just one. Slayer’s consistency is unmatched, their commitment to all the forces that make heavy metal music a unique phenomenon, unparalleled. Of course there are four pieces to this puzzle, each with his own vital quarter of the pie, but to lose one is beyond catastrophic. And “piece by piece” we try to make sense of this tragic death.
I’ve had the privilege of getting close to the band—whether it be through publishing, web, retail or radio—and Hanneman was always quiet, shy and reserved. The last time I saw him in Toronto was when Slayer opened up for Priest at the Molson Ampitheater a few years back. I had just finished a stoned chat with Dave Lombardo on the band’s bus and we spoke about the current state of hockey. I handed him a BraveWords jersey and wished him the best on the band’s continuing journey. Now he’s on a different one south of heaven.
We are left with a wealth of music and the memories of seeing them live, as, really, nobody came close that vicious ceremony. To this day, Slayer rules in my collection, from cassette to LP to CD to mp3. When I hit “Plays” in iTunes, most of the Hanneman-penned material rises right to the top—it never grows tired. It’s been a driving force in pleasure, business and athletics since I scooped up Show No Mercy in 1983. That’s a 30 year commitment. That’s a marriage. And there’s no divorce in my future.
Rest in peace, brother.