The Transfer Station
Song - Artist -
DECK THE HALLS WITH BOOGIE WOOGIE - KATIE WEBSTER -
Tune into "Dark Side of the Highway" this Sunday (May 12) for a special memorial tribute to Jeff Hanneman, guitarist and founding member of legendary heavy metal band Slayer...
R. I. P. Jeffrey John Hanneman (January 31, 1964 - May 2, 2013)
Jeffrey John "Jeff" Hanneman (January 31, 1964 – May 2, 2013) was an American guitarist, best known as a founding member of the American thrash metal band Slayer. Influenced by punk music growing up, Hanneman stated that the genre influenced Slayer's sound to create a faster and more aggressive approach. His punk influences were also evident through his placement of a "DK" symbol from the California punk band the Dead Kennedys and likeness of Johnny Rotten on his guitar.
Hanneman had contributed both lyrical and musical material to every Slayer album and wrote the songs "Raining Blood", "War Ensemble", "South of Heaven", "Seasons in the Abyss" and "Angel of Death", which are played at almost every live Slayer show. He had his own signature guitar, the ESP Jeff Hanneman Signature model.
Hanneman was born January 31, 1964 in Oakland, California and grew up in Long Beach, California in a family containing several war veterans: his father fought in Normandy during World War II and his brothers in Vietnam, making warfare a common conversation topic at the dinner table. War films were popular on TV at the time, and Hanneman often joined his brothers in constructing and coloring tank and plane models. His interest in warfare and military history is attributed to his upbringing. In a 2009 interview with Decibel Magazine, he states his father is German, but fought for the allied side in World War II. In the same interview, he also goes into detail of what district of Germany his father and grandparents hail from. His grandfather was fluent in German.
Hanneman approached Kerry King in 1981, when King was auditioning for a band. After the try-out session, the two guitarists started talking and playing Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs. Slayer was born when Hanneman asked "Why don't we start our own band?", to which King replied "...Fuck yeah!". In 1984, Hanneman, Dave Lombardo and Suicidal Tendencies' guitarist Rocky George had a brief punk side project called "Pap Smear" - the band was due to start recording when Hanneman was advised to avoid the side project by Slayer's producer, Rick Rubin, who is quoted as saying "Ahhhh, don’t do it, man — this is the kind of thing that breaks bands up!" Hanneman took Rubin's advice, and later used two of the songs on Slayer's 1996 album Undisputed Attitude.
In 1997 Hanneman married Kathryn whom he had met in the early 1980s. The couple had no children and lived in Los Angeles. Kathryn stayed at home when Slayer toured; Hanneman claimed to prefer this, having said that when he came home, she was "all brand new again." Kathryn had toured with the band twice in twenty years.
Hanneman was a reformed cocaine and pill abuser, much like Slayer vocalist/bassist Tom Araya. They decided to quit when they realized "this can lead to only death or something, this is going too far." Hanneman was a long-time fan of the Oakland Raiders.
In early 2011, Hanneman contracted necrotizing fasciitis. Reports linked this illness with a spider bite he claimed to have received while in a friend's hot tub.
In light of his illness and Slayer's upcoming participation in the Australian Soundwave Festival tour that was set to begin on February 26, 2011, the band made the decision to play the dates without Hanneman, and on February 16th, 2011 brought on Gary Holt (guitarist of the band Exodus) to fill in for him. Pat O'Brien joined as Slayer's temporary second guitarist when Holt left the tour to play with Exodus. By 2012, bandmate Tom Araya had announced his recovery from the disease. However, later in February 2013, Kerry King revealed continuing health problems that kept him from working with Slayer.
Hanneman died of liver failure on May 2, 2013, in a local Los Angeles hospital near his home in Southern California's Inland Empire.The Westboro Baptist Church announced plans to picket his funeral.
Hanneman's interest in German war medals and Nazi Germany was illustrated by many of his lyrics. Those interests in the Nazi party began with medals given to him by his father, including some taken from a dead German soldier. His most prized medal was his Knight's Cross, which he had bought from a Slayer fan for $1000. While touring with Motörhead, Hanneman discovered Motörhead vocalist Lemmy's interest in medals, and the two discussed medal designs, weapons and tactics used by the Wehrmacht.
Hanneman's lyrics for the song "Angel of Death" led to accusations of Slayer being Nazi sympathizers. Hanneman had defended himself with "nothing I put in the lyrics that says necessarily he (Josef Mengele) was a bad man, because to me - well, isn't that obvious? I shouldn't have to tell you that." The band has stated numerous times that they are not Nazis and do not condone Nazism.
Hanneman's musical influences included early heavy metal and punk rock, which led to Slayer's 1996 album Undisputed Attitude. Hanneman's and King's dual guitar solos have been called "wildly chaotic", and "twisted genius". Early albums, such as Hell Awaits and Reign in Blood, featured a "wailing style" and "demented soloing often mimicking the screams of the song's victims." South of Heaven featured "more technical" guitar riffs, utilizing the aforementioned tremolo picking and down-picked notes, improving musicianship while retaining a melodic sense. Both Hanneman and King were ranked #10 on Guitar World's "100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time."
Hanneman wrote the music for most of the band's fan favorites, songs such as "South of Heaven", "War Ensemble", "Raining Blood", "Angel of Death", "Mandatory Suicide", and "Seasons in the Abyss", which have all become staples for live performance at Slayer shows. Hanneman's favorite album was Reign in Blood, and he enjoyed performing the songs "Raining Blood" and "Angel of Death." He had contributed lyrics and music to every Slayer album, having formed a music and lyric writing partnership with Araya, which sometimes overshadowed King's creative input.
When writing new material, the band writes the music before the lyrics. Hanneman often composed riffs at his house, using a 24-track and a drum machine and then by gathering opinions from the other band members; King and Lombardo made suggestions of alterations. The band will play the riff to get the basic song structure, and then figure out where the lyrics and solos go. Hanneman had stated that writing lyrics and music is a "free for all"; "It's all just whoever comes up with what. Sometimes I’ll be more on a roll and I’ll have more stuff, same with Kerry — it's whoever's hot, really. Anybody can write anything; if it's good we use it, if not we don’t."
In Slayer's early days, Hanneman used a black Gibson Les Paul during the Show No Mercy and Hell Awaits era. In 1986 he began playing B.C. Rich, notably a Rich Bich model with various graphics on it. By the end of the 80's he was seen using a BC Rich Gunslinger. In 1990 he began playing the famous Jackson Soloist that he would use constantly over the next decade. Around 2000/2001 Jeff switched to ESP guitars and had his own signature model made, based on his Jackson Soloist. When touring, Hanneman carried six guitars due to the different tunings he utilized. Most albums such as Haunting the Chapel - Divine Intervention and World Painted Blood have E-flat tuning. However, albums such as Diabolus in Musica - Christ Illusion feature alternate tunings and the first album Show No Mercy was recorded in standard tuning, while live performances of the respective songs were played in E-flat since about 1984. Extra guitars were also brought in case a string snaps or a guitar sustains damage.