SLAYER guitarist and co-founder Jeff Hanneman has died of liver failure. He was 49.
A statement released by the band said Hanneman died in hospital near his Southern California home this morning (US time), Billboard reported.
"Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11AM this morning near his Southern California home," it said.
"Hanneman was in an area hospital when he suffered liver failure."
An open letter posted on the band's website said that Hannerman spent most of 2011 recovering from a flesh-eating disease contracted from a spider bite.
"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," the letter said.
"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."
Hanneman founded Slayer with lead and rhythm guitarist Kerry King in 1981.
The band's breakthrough 1986 album Reign in Blood included two tracks, Angel of Death and Raining Blood, which were penned by Hanneman.
He is survived by a wife, sister and two brothers.
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