Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman dead at 49

May 3, 2013 at 10:49 a.m. ET

Guitarist Jeff Hanneman, a founding member of Slayer, died Thursday, May 2, in a California hospital. He was 49 years old.

Jeff Hanneman

Jeff Hanneman, a founding member and the guitarist for thrash metal band Slayer, has died of liver failure. He was 49 years old.

The band confirmed the sad news on their Facebook page on Thursday.

"Slayer is devastated to inform that their band mate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11AM this morning near his Southern California home," the statement read. "He was 49. Hanneman was in an area hospital when he suffered liver failure. He is survived by his wife Kathy, his sister Kathy and his brothers Michael and Larry, and will be sorely missed."

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Hanneman had been struggling to recover from a spider bite over a year ago that left him in a temporary medical-induced coma. The band recently explained on their website, "As you know, Jeff was bitten by a spider more than a year ago, but 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. 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…"

Hanneman and fellow guitarist Kerry King formed Slayer in the early '80s after meeting at an audition for another band and deciding to start their own. The band has won two Grammys and been nominated for five, and four of their 11 studio albums went gold.

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Metal acts pay tribute to Jeff Hanneman on Twitter & Facebook

Guns N’Roses: "Our condolence to the entire @slayer family #RIPJeff"

Black Stone Cherry: "RIP JEFF HANNEMAN of Slayer, we lost a good one."

Hammerfall: "How tragic, Jeff Hanneman has passed away! Slayer, believe it or not, has been quite instrumental in shaping the HF attitude, and we will miss him and his musical contributions to the world dearly. R.I.P., Jeff!"

Image courtesy Sakura/