Oh, man, this week just isn't getting any easier. As we're still grappling with the two recent deaths that rattled our community this week, comes word of another significant loss. If you haven't heard yet, Jeff Hanneman has passed away at the age of 49. The Slayer guitarist reportedly died this morning of liver failure in Southern California. Besides playing a pair of songs with the band at the Big Four at Coachella in April 2011, Hanneman hadn't been performing with the band as he struggled to recover from a flesh-eating disease he ostensibly contracted from a spider bite.
Necrotising fasciitis, the malady's clinical name, ravaged Hanneman's arm; the pictures were gruesome and the effects were debilitating. Hanneman was said to have been making progress recently, though, according to the band, and had even stopped by rehearsals and submitted songs for the new record.
This from the band itself, which just yesterday, coincidentally, posted a note on its site just yesterday updating fans on Hanneman's progress, explaining that Gary Holt of Exodus fame would continue to fill Hanneman's slot until he had recovered enough to continue. Below is the note in its entirety:
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Slayer fans everywhere - it's time to let you know what is going on with our brother Jeff Hanneman.
As you know, Jeff was bitten by a spider more than a year ago, but what you may not have known was that for a couple of days after he went to the ER, things were touch-and-go. There was talk that he might have to have his arm amputated, and we didn't know if he was going to pull through at all. He was in a medically-induced coma for a few days and had several operations to remove the dead and dying tissue from his arm. So, understand, he was in really, really bad shape. It's been about a year since he got out of the hospital, and since then, he had to learn to walk again, he's had several painful skin grafts, he's been in rehab doing exercises to regain the strength in his arm; but best of all, he's been playing guitar. We were all excited when he joined us onstage for the encore a year ago at The Big Four show at Coachella. Since then, we've given him all the time and support he's needed to continue his rehab so he can come back to the band fully recovered and able to deliver the kind of shows we all want him to. While Jeff's been doing some writing and has been coming to rehearsal over the past several weeks, he has decided he needs to take more time to continue his rehab. While we want him back onstage with the band, all of us support his decision. So, we're very grateful that Gary Holt will continue to fill in for Jeff, and will tour with us until Jeff completes his rehab and is ready to return. How long will that be? The best and most honest answer we can give you is 'as long as it takes.' We also wanted you to know that we've been doing some writing and recording for the next Slayer album - we've tracked a few songs, and will finish the album when we're off the road later this year. Gary will join us on tour in Europe and the UK in May and June, and then we'll all see you on this Summer's Mayhem Festival.
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