Jeff Hanneman, Slayer guitarist, dies at 49

Jeff Hanneman wrote some of the band's most famous songs

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Metal guitarist Jeff Hanneman, founding member of rock band Slayer, has died at the age of 49.

A statement on the band's Facebook page said Hanneman died of liver failure in California on Thursday.

Since 2011, Hanneman had been suffering from necrotising fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease that he is believed to have contracted from a spider bite.

On its website, Slayer paid tribute to "Our Brother Jeff Hanneman, May He Rest In Peace (1964 - 2013)."

The guitarist is survived by his wife Kathy, his sister and two brothers.

"Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11am this morning near his Southern California home," the statement said.

Slayer The band have released nine studio albums since forming in 1981
'Big four'

Hanneman was being treated in a local hospital when he "suffered liver failure," it added.

Slayer, co-founded by Hanneman and Kerry King, became one of the "big four" thrash metal groups of the 1980s, along with Anthrax, Megadeth and Metallica.

Over the past three decades, the band released nine studio albums and performed at thousands of live shows.

Musicians who paid tribute on Twitter included Guns'n'Roses guitarist Slash: "Tragic and shocking news about Jeff Hanneman. He is going to missed by so many. What a sad day for Metal. RIP man".

The Recording Academy also released a statement, describing Hanneman as "an intense and powerful guitarist and a force to be reckoned with on stage".

President Neil Portnow said: "The music industry has lost a true trailblazer, and our deepest sympathies go out to his family, his bandmates and fans around the world who mourn his untimely passing."

Slayer are due to play a series of gigs in the coming months, including Bloodstock Open Air metal festival in Derbyshire and Spain's Resurrection festival, both in August.

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