“I first met Jeff Hanneman when SLAYER opened for BITCH in Southern California in 1983,” Slagel said. “I was lucky enough to get them to record a song for ‘Metal Massacre 3’ and then ‘Show No Mercy’, etc.
“Being in the studio with Jeff back then was truly amazing. Here was a young kid who was writing and playing some very mature and amazing heavy metal. History would prove him to be one of the best guitarists and composers in heavy metal history.
“Being able to be around him so much in the early days was just awesome. He was a pretty shy kid, but was so passionate about music. He grew up more into punk than metal, and those influences really helped hone his groundbreaking guitar work and songs. Also he was truly an amazing lyricist; I think people forget that a lot. Just read the lyrics he wrote and remember he was a very young kid when writing so much of the classic stuff.
“I know I am a bit biased, but he really will go down at the very top of metal legends for what he has contributed to our genre.
“As I said, he was a shy guy in the early days, but for sure had some really good opinions about things. I loved talking music and history with him; he had such an interesting take on both. Truly a genius and, as I have said, his work proves that. Jeff was also a big hockey fan! We both were able to talk hockey over the years whenever I would see them play live, and also at a few games. I was able to get him tickets to the L.A. Kings playoff games last season on their run to the Cup.
“It was so cool talking to him after the games, and he was so excited he was able to go. I was so happy to get him these tickets, as we all know how tough it has been on him after the spider bite.
“I remember how great it was seeing him at the ‘Big Four’ [show] in Indio, California. We had a quick chat about how happy I was to see him, and, of course, we talked some hockey.
“I also got him tickets to the Stanley Cup final here in Los Angeles. He called me after the game to thank me and said he had an amazing time at the game.
“I was so happy to help him out and really glad he had a great time.
“So sad and sudden to get the word of his passing. Way too young to go. He left a lasting and incredible legacy, and he will be missed greatly!
“R.I.P., my brother.”
Decibel‘s Jeff Hanneman tribute issue can be purchased here.
Hanneman passed away on May 2 from liver failure at the age of 49.
Members of SLAYER released a statement on May 9 saying that Hanneman died of alcohol-related cirrhosis.
Hanneman had actually not been playing with SLAYER for more than two years since he contracted necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease, from a spider bite in his backyard in January 2011. The infection ravaged the flesh and tissues of Hanneman‘s arm, leading to numerous surgeries, skin grafts and intense periods of rehab that forced him into semi-retirement and left him near death at several points.
Hanneman‘s last appearance with SLAYER was in April 2011, when he played an encore with the band at the “Big Four” concert in Indio, California.