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Jeffrey John "Jeff" Hanneman


1981-2013 Slayer - guitars (as Jeff Hanneman)  

Personal information

Born on: 31.01.1964
Died on: 02.05.2013

Jeffrey John "Jeff" Hanneman (born January 31, 1964) is best known as the lead and rhythm guitarist as well as a founding member of the American thrash metal band Slayer. Hanneman grew up in Los Angeles in a family of war veterans, and his fascination with warfare is attributed to his upbringing. His interest in the subject of war pertains to much of his lyrical material including the song "Angel of Death".

Influenced by punk music growing up, Hanneman stated that the genre influenced Slayer's sound to make and create a faster and more aggressive approach. Hanneman has contributed both lyrical and musical material to every Slayer album and wrote the songs "Raining Blood", "War Ensemble", "Seasons in the Abyss" and "Angel of Death", which are played at almost every live Slayer show. He has his own signature guitar, the ESP Jeff Hanneman Signature model.


Hanneman was born January 31, 1964 in Oakland, California and grew up in Long Beach, California, in a family containing several war veterans: his father fought in Normandy during World War II and his brothers in Vietnam; so warfare was a common conversation topic at the dinner table. War films were popular on TV at the time, and Hanneman often joined his brothers in constructing and coloring tank and plane models. His interest in warfare and military history is attributed to his upbringing.[1] He is actually of Dutch descent, rather than German as is frequently reported.

Hanneman approached Kerry King in 1981, when King was auditioning for a band. After the try-out session, the two guitarists started talking and playing Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs. Slayer was born when Hanneman asked "Why don't we start our own band?", to which King replied "...Fuck yeah!". In 1982, Hanneman, Dave Lombardo and Suicidal Tendencies's guitarist Rocky George had a brief punk side project called "Pap Smear" - the band was due to start recording when Hanneman was advised to avoid the side project by Slayer's producer, Rick Rubin, who is quoted as saying "Ahhhh, don't do it, man ? this is the kind of thing that breaks bands up!" Hanneman took Rubin's advice, and later used two of the songs on Slayer's 1996 album Undisputed Attitude.

In 1997 Hanneman married Kathryn, whom he had met in the early 1980s. The couple have no children and live in Los Angeles, forty minutes away from King. Kathryn stays at home when Slayer tours; Hanneman claims to prefer this, saying that when he comes home, she's "all brand new again". Kathryn has toured with the band twice in twenty years.

Hanneman and Slayer vocalist Tom Araya are reformed cocaine and pill abusers. They decided to quit when they realised "this can lead to only death or something, this is going too far". Hanneman is a long-time fan of the Oakland Raiders.

Interest in National Socialist History

Hanneman's interest in German war medals and Nazi Germany is illustrated by many of his lyrics. Those interests in the National Socialists began with medals given to him by his father, including some taken from a dead German soldier. His most prized medal is his Knight's Cross, which he bought from a Slayer fan for $1000. While touring with Motörhead, Hanneman discovered Motörhead vocalist Lemmy's interest in medals, and the two discussed medal designs, weapons and tactics used by the Wehrmacht

Hanneman's lyrics for the song "Angel of Death" led to accusations of Slayer being Nazi sympathizers. Hanneman has defended himself with "nothing I put in the lyrics that says necessarily he was a bad man, because to me - well, isn't that obvious? I shouldn't have to tell you that." The band have stated numerous times that they do not condone Nazism and are merely interested in the subject.

Style and influences

Hanneman's musical influences include early heavy metal and punk rock,[1] which led to Slayer's 1996 album Undisputed Attitude. Hanneman's and King's dual guitar solos have been called "wildly chaotic", and "twisted genius". Early albums, such as Hell Awaits and Reign in Blood, featured a "wailing style" and "demented soloing often mimicking the screams of the song's victims". South of Heaven featured "more technical" guitar riffs, utilizing the aforementioned tremolo picking and down-picked notes, improving musicianship while retaining a melodic sense. Both Hanneman and King were ranked #10 on Guitar Worlds "100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time".

Lyrics and music

Hanneman wrote the music for most of the band's fan favorites, songs such as "South of Heaven", "War Ensemble", "Raining Blood", "Angel of Death", "Mandatory Suicide", and "Seasons in the Abyss", which have all become staples for live performance at Slayer shows. Hanneman's favorite album is Reign in Blood, and he enjoys performing the songs "Raining Blood" and "Angel of Death." He has contributed lyrics and music to every Slayer album, forming a music and lyric writing partnership with Araya, which sometimes overshadows King's creative input.

When writing new material, the band writes the music before the lyrics. Hanneman often composes riffs at his house, using a 24-track and a drum machine and then gathers opinions from the other band members; King and Lombardo make suggestions of alterations. The band will play the riff to get the basic song structure, and then figure out where the lyrics and solos go. Hanneman has stated that writing lyrics and music is a "free for all"; "It's all just whoever comes up with what. Sometimes I'll be more on a roll and I'll have more stuff, same with Kerry ? it's whoever's hot, really. Anybody can write anything; if it's good we use it, if not we don't."


When touring, Hanneman carries six guitars due to the different tunings required. Early albums such as Haunting the Chapel - Divine Intervention have E-flat tuning, while later albums such as Diabolus in Musica - Christ Illusion feature alternate tunings, the first album Show No Mercy was recorded in standard tuning, while live performances of the respective songs are being played in E-flat since about 1984. Extra guitars are also brought in case a string snaps or a guitar sustains damage.


* ESP Jeff Hanneman Signature model.
* Jackson Custom Shop Soloist with 2 EMG Pickups
* EMG 81/85 Pick-ups with EMG SPC Mid-Boost circuit
* Kahler bridges
* D'Addario .009-.042 Strings


* Shure Wireless System,
* Dunlop Crybaby From Hell Wah-Wah Pedal
* Eventide H3000S Harmonizer
* MXR Super Comp
* MXR Smart Gate
* MXR 10 band EQ
* Monster cable

* Marshall JCM-800 amplifiers,
* Marshall ModeFour Speaker Cabinets (Either 280 or 400 Watt Models)


* Heineken Pilsener endorsement.