UPDATE: Spider Called Pivotal In Slayer Guitarist Death

By: Associated Press / ABC News Radio
By: Associated Press / ABC News Radio

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UPDATE: Friday, May 3, 2013

Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman thought he was on the mend after a spider bite followed by an infection. He'd been writing songs with the band in anticipation of recording a new album later this year.

But in an unusual chain of events, a representative for the band said the bite may have contributed to Hanneman's death more than two years later.

Hanneman died Thursday morning of liver failure at a Los Angeles hospital with his wife, Kathy, by his side, according to Slayer spokeswoman Heidi Robinson-Fitzgerald. He was 49.

Family members and doctors were not immediately available to discuss the cause of death.

Robinson-Fitzgerald said Hanneman had been slowly recovering from necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease that nearly cost him his arm. Such an infection can develop from a minor cut or scratch; Robinson-Fitzgerald blamed the spider bite, for which he failed to seek immediate treatment. She said he was bitten while in a friend's hot tub.

Infections by flesh-eating bacteria are rare. The affliction can destroy muscle, fat and skin and may require surgery to remove the diseased tissue to save a patient's life.

Hanneman had several operations to remove dead and dying tissue from his arm, the band said on its website last year.

It's unknown if Hanneman was bitten by the dangerous brown recluse spider. Robinson-Fitzgerald said the spider that bit the Slayer guitarist was never recovered.

The government estimates roughly 750 flesh-eating bacteria cases occur each year, usually caused by a type of strep germ. About 1 in 5 people with the most common kind of flesh-eating strep bacteria die.

People with weakened immune systems can be more at risk.

Flesh-eating bacteria, by itself, doesn't cause liver failure. But at least one type of strep bacteria can cause streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, which can lead to liver failure.

It is unclear whether an autopsy will be scheduled. No funeral arrangements have been made.

"Jeff Hanneman will always be a metal god," rocker Andrew W.K. posted on Twitter.

Hanneman co-founded the thrash metal pioneers in Huntington Beach, Calif., in 1981.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

One of the founding members of American thrash metal band Slayer, guitarist Jeff Hanneman, has died aged 49.

The band released a statement saying that their "bandmate and brother" passed away from liver failure at a California hospital Thursday morning.

The guitarist had recently begun writing songs with the band in anticipation of recording a new album later this year. He had been slowly recovering from what was believed to be a spider bite that nearly cost him his arm after he failed to seek immediate treatment.

"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," said Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy, in a statement.

Hanneman founded Slayer with fellow guitarist Kerry King in 1981 in suburban Los Angeles and they went on to sell over 20 million albums worldwide.

The band was known as one of the "big four" thrash metal groups of the 1980s, along with Anthrax, Megadeth and Metallica.

The thrash metal genre was distinct for its extremely fast tempo, big double-bass drums and dark themes, often dealing with Satanism, war and serial killers.

Music website Allmusic.com said the band's trademark "full-throttle velocity, wildly chaotic guitar solos, and powerful musical chops paint an effectively chilling sonic background for their obsessive chronicling of the dark side."

Hanneman is best known as a writer of the songs Raining Blood and Angel of Death from the 1986 album Reign of Blood, which is considered a landmark of the genre.

Hanneman is survived by his wife and three siblings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report


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