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Slayer Guitarist Jeff Hanneman Died of Alcohol-Related Cirrhosis

Severity of condition wasn't known until just before his death

Jeff Hanneman of Slayer performs in Warsaw.
Kevin Nixon/Metal Hammer via Getty Images
May 10, 2013 9:40 AM ET

Slayer have shared the cause of Jeff Hanneman's death last week, saying they have just learned the guitarist died from alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver. "While he had his health struggles over the years, including the recent necrotizing fasciitis infection that devastated his well-being, Jeff and those close to him were not aware of the true extent of his liver condition until the last days of his life," Slayer wrote on their website. "Contrary to some reports, Jeff was not on a transplant list at the time of his passing, or at any time prior to that. In fact, by all accounts, it appeared that he had been improving – he was excited and looking forward to working on a new record."

Jeff Hanneman of Slayer Dead at 49

Hanneman contracted necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease, in early 2011. Doctors believed it might have been caused by a spider bite. Hanneman almost lost his arm and was briefly placed in a medically-induced coma. He had been on hiatus from Slayer ever since, though he had been working on physical rehabilitation, including playing guitar. Slayer left open the option of his return upon his recovery.

Slayer guitarist Kerry King and frontman Tom Araya reflected on their old friend and bandmate. "I had so many great times with Jeff. . . . In the early days when we were out on the road, he and I were the night owls, we would stay up all night on the bus, just hanging out, talking, watching movies," King wrote. Added Araya, "Jeff was a lifeline of Slayer, he wrote so many of the songs that the band will always be known for. He had a good heart, he was a good guy."

Slayer is planning a memorial celebration for Hanneman for later this month. It'll be open to the public, and more information will be announced on the band's website soon.

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