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Remembering Jeff Hanneman: A Tribute to a Metal Music Icon

Jeff Hanneman was a legendary guitarist, songwriter, and co-founder of the thrash metal band Slayer. He was born on January 31, 1964, in Oakland, California, and grew up in Long Beach. Hanneman was influenced by punk rock and heavy metal, and his unique playing style blended both genres. 

He was known for his fast and aggressive riffs, and his solos were considered some of the best in metal history. Hanneman passed away on May 2, 2013, but his legacy lives on in the music he created.

Early Life and Musical Journey

Hanneman’s interest in music began when he was a teenager. He learned to play the guitar by listening to his favorite bands and practicing for hours. Hanneman’s unique playing style blended both genres, giving Slayer its distinct sound.

In 1981, Hanneman founded Slayer with his friend Kerry King. The band was part of the “Big Four” of thrash metal, along with Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax. Slayer’s music was known for its aggressive and fast-paced riffs, and its lyrics often dealt with controversial topics like war, religion, and death.

Hanneman wrote many of the band’s most iconic songs, including “Angel of Death,” “Raining Blood,” and “South of Heaven.”

Hanneman’s Contributions to Metal Music

Hanneman’s contributions to metal music were immense. He was known for his ability to write fast and aggressive riffs, which became a hallmark of Slayer’s music. His solos were also considered some of the best in metal history. Hanneman was also known for using unusual scales and modes, which gave Slayer’s music its unique sound.

His lyrics were often controversial and dealt with taboo subjects like death, war, and religion. However, they were also thought-provoking and tackled essential issues. 

Hanneman often wrote about the horrors of war, drawing on his father’s experiences as a veteran of World War II. He also wrote about the dangers of organized religion, criticizing its role in promoting violence and oppression.

Hanneman’s Legacy

Hanneman’s legacy lives on in the music he created. Slayer’s influence on metal music cannot be overstated, and Hanneman played a significant role in shaping the genre. His fast and aggressive riffs inspired countless other guitarists, and musicians still study and emulate his solos.

Hanneman’s lyrics also had a profound impact on fans. They were often controversial and thought-provoking, and they tackled essential issues often ignored by mainstream music. Hanneman’s music reflected his beliefs and experiences, resonating with fans who felt alienated by mainstream culture.

Hanneman’s death in 2013 was a shock to the metal community. He had been struggling with health problems for several years, and his death was attributed to liver failure. Fans worldwide mourned his passing, and many tributes were written in his honor.

In 2019, Slayer announced they would embark on their final tour, “The Final Campaign.” The time celebrated the band’s legacy and allowed fans to say goodbye to one of metal’s most extraordinary acts. It was also a chance for the band to pay tribute to Hanneman, who had been an integral part of their success.


Jeff Hanneman’s legacy lives on in the music he created and the fans he inspired. He will always be remembered as one of the greatest guitarists in metal history, and his impact on the genre will be felt for generations to come.

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