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Jeff Hanneman, guitarist and co-founder of Slayer, dies aged 49

American guitarist Jeff Hanneman, a co-founder of the heavy metal band Slayer, died in southern California on Thursday, the band said in a statement posted on their website. He was 49.

“Hanneman was in an area hospital when he suffered liver failure,” the band said.

Jeff had been recovering from a spider bite which had left him with necrotising fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease which attacks subcutaneous tissue.

Hanneman founded Slayer with fellow guitarist Kerry King in the early 1980s in suburban Los Angeles.

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

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 thrash genre.

Social networks took off with people expressing their gried, not only fans but also fellow musicians. Slash, from Guns’n’Roses fame, said: “Tragic & shocking news about Jeff Hanneman. He is going to missed by so many. What a sad day for Metal. RIP man”, while Andrew WK said “Jeff Hanneman will always be a metal god. A true master, he gave energy and excitement to millions, and will continue to.”

Hanneman is survived by his wife, Kathy, and three siblings.

RIP Jeff, another sad loss to music the world over.