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Slayer Members Reflect on Guitarist Jeff Hanneman’s Death + What It Means for Their Future

Dave Etheridge-Barnes, Getty Images

Members of Slayer gave a revealing interview to Guitar World concerning guitarist and former member Jeff Hanneman, who died early last month from cirrhosis of the liver.

“Jeff and I always drank,” said Slayer guitarist Kerry King. “They called Steven Tyler and Joe Perry the Toxic Twins. We were the Drunk Brothers. The difference being that I don’t wake up in the morning and need a beer. Jeff didn’t know how not to drink.”

During Hanneman’s final years, the musician’s drinking as well as a flesh eating disease called necrotizing fasciitis hampered his ability to play, with his close friend and Exodus guitarist Gary Holt filling in during his absence. Slayer member Tom Araya continued to leave the door open for Hanneman in the wake of the band’s tough decision.

“It wasn’t easy, but it’s not like we were blind to what was going on,” said Araya. “And there were points that we tried to help and encourage him to come back — tell him he could still be a part of what we do, even if it wasn’t full time.”

With Hanneman’s passing and drummer Dave Lombardo’s split from the band, Slayer has had their share of personal tumult this year. Araya added that there is no replacing Hanneman’s contribution to the group, and that after 30 years, pushing forward “would literally be like starting over.”

Kerry King, on the other hand, remains optimistic about Slayer’s future, and believes the outfit shouldn’t just split up due to the band’s recent tragedy. Lombardo has even thrown an olive branch to his longtime mates, claiming that he doesn’t want any animosity moving forward.

“Life is too short and we’re too old for that s–t,” said Lombardo, who appears on Sepultura’s upcoming album. “I’m ready and willing, so we’ll see what happens.” That being said, Slayer recently announced that former drummer Paul Bostaph was returning to the band full-time, seemingly shutting the door on a Lombardo return.

For the immediate future, Slayer will continue with its metal ways, as they embark on a European tour this summer. Their next stop comes tomorrow (June 25) at a concert in Belgrade with Newsted.

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