Jeff Hanneman Of Slayer Dead At 49

Metal guitarist wrote 'Raining Blood' and 'War Ensemble.'

Jeff Hanneman, a guitarist and founding member of the metal group Slayer, died Thursday (May 2) of liver failure. He was 49 years old.

"Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11 this morning near his Southern California home," the band's longtime publicist said in a statement. "Hanneman was in an area hospital when he suffered liver failure."

Hanneman and Kerry King founded the group in 1981 after King was trying out for another band. The two bonded over their shared love for Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, going on to release their first album "Show No Mercy" in 1983. They went on to release 11 more albums over the next 26 years; their last release was 2009's "World Painted Blood." He contributed both lyrics and music to every one of those albums, and wrote iconic songs like "Raining Blood," "War Ensemble," "South of Heaven" and "Angel of Death," which are staples in Slayer's live shows.

Both Hanneman and King were ranked #10 on Guitar World's "100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time." Hanneman even had his own signature guitar, the ESP Jeff Hanneman Signature model.

He is survived by his wife Kathryn, whom he married in 1997, his sister Kathy and his brothers Michael and Larry.