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Jeff Hanneman, American guitarist and co-founder of heavy metal band Slayer, has died of liver failure.
There has been speculation in the media that his death may be connected to a spider bite that almost cost him his arm, but experts say that is unlikely. After being bitten, the musician had developed necrotizing fasciitis, the flesh-eating disease which attacks subcutaneous tissue.
Hanneman, 49, had recently begun writing songs with Slayer in anticipation of recording a new album.
Slayer were known as one of the “big four” thrash metal groups of 1980s along with Anthrax, Megadeth and Metallica.
The thrash metal genre was distinct for its extremely fast tempo, big double-bass drums and dark themes, often dealing with Satanism, war and serial killers.
Music website Allmusic.com said the band’s trademark “full-throttle velocity, wildly chaotic guitar solos, and powerful musical chops paint an effectively chilling sonic background for their obsessive chronicling of the dark side.”
Hanneman is best known as a writer of the songs “Raining Blood” and “Angel of Death” from the 1986 album “Reign of Blood,” which is considered a landmark of the genre.
He is survived by his wife Kathryn and three siblings.
Musicians responded to news of his death on Twitter.
Guns’n‘Roses’ guitarist Slash wrote: “Tragic & shocking news about Jeff Hanneman. He is going to missed by so many. What a sad day for Metal. RIP man”.
Singer-songwriter Andrew W.K.‘s tribute read: “Jeff Hanneman will always be a metal god. A true master, he gave energy and excitement to millions, and will continue to.”