Celebrated metal guitarist Kerry King, one of the lead guitarists and founding members of the legendary American thrash metal band Slayer spoke on the death anniversary of co-lead guitarist and co-founder of Slayer, guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who died at 49 due to liver failure on June 2, 2013.
In an interview with Metal Hammer, King opened up on the passing of his friend and former band member’s death and also shed some light on Hanneman’s place in the band during the days before his tragic passing. Battling alcoholism, Hanneman had missed several shows between 2011 and 2013.
This led to fellow guitarist and another legend of the thrash genere, Exodus member Gary Holt to fill up for him as a session member, before becoming full-time replacement for him after Hanneman’s passing.
Speaking of his final days, King said Hanneman was on the mend and “wanted nothing more than to come back” to Slayer.
“It’s crazy because he was actually getting better,” Kerry said.
“Personally, I think that had he gone forward for a couple more weeks and not been drinking, maybe he would have gotten back to where he needed to be to do an entire Slayer show again. We always thought he would come back. It just never materialised.”
King also said that he was keen to return to the band. “He wanted nothing more than to come back and be onstage and perform. And he was progressing, but not far enough to where he could nail the fast stuff. We were like, ‘Listen dude. Everyone wants you to be playing with us, but we gotta have you performing at the level that everybody’s used to seeing you at.”
In 2011, Hanneman returned to the stage to play two songs with Slayer in Indio, California, Unfortunately, this proved to be his last gig with the thrash legends.
Despite having passed away, Hanneman still contributed to the song ‘Piano Wire’ from their final album ‘Repentless’, with King saying that while he did not play on the album he wrote the music. Jeff Hanneman’s last album with the band was ‘World Painted Blood’ which was released in 2009.
Slayer are an American thrash metal band formed in 1981 and are considered among the biggest and most important metal bands, influencing generations of artists and contributing to the creation of various metal sub-genres such as death metal, black metal, groove metal, extreme metal, metalcore etc.
Counted as part of the ‘Big Four’ of thrash metal along with fellow metal bands Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax, Slayer is noted for its fast pace, darker lyrics relating to topics such as Satanism, war, murder, religious violence, death and an overall harsher and aggressive sound compared to many of their peers. They disbanded in 2019 after their Final World Tour.