One week after Slayer's Jeff Hanneman died at the age of 49, the guitarist/songwriter's official cause of death has been revealed to be alcohol-related cirrhosis, or an irreversible scarring of the liver.
In a message posted to Slayer's official web site on Thursday (May 9), the band writes that they had just learned of the cause of death, following Hanneman's death at a hospital near his home in Southern California last Thursday.
"While he had his health struggles over the years, including the recent Necrotizing fasciitis infection that devastated his well-being, Jeff and those close to him were not aware of the true extent of his liver condition until the last days of his life," the band wrote. "Contrary to some reports, Jeff was not on a transplant list at the time of his passing, or at any time prior to that. In fact, by all accounts, it appeared that he had been improving – he was excited and looking forward to working on a new record."
Along with the update, band members Kerry King and Tom Araya shared memories of Hanneman in the message to fans. "I had so many great times with Jeff," King wrote. "In the early days when we were out on the road, he and I were the night owls, we would stay up all night on the bus, just hanging out, talking, watching movies...World War II movies, horror movies, we watched 'Full Metal Jacket' so many times, we could practically recite all of the dialogue."
Hanneman was raised primarily in Long Beach and became fascinated with wars and military campaigns -- themes he'd bring to Slayer's music -- via his father, a World War II veteran, and brothers who served in Vietnam. He met King in 1981 and decided to form their own band, mixing heavy metal and punk influences and signing with Metal Blade Records for Slayer's first two albums, "Show No Mercy" in 1983 and "Hell Awaits" in 1985.
Hanneman had been off the road since early 2011, when he contracted necrotizing fasciitis -- most likely from a spider bite -- a quick-progressing disease that literally eats away at the flesh from deep layers of skin and tissue.
King and Araya began the new message by telling the band's followers, "While the details are being worked out now, Slayer wants its fans to know that there will be a celebration of Jeff Hanneman's life sometime later this month, along with Jeff's family and friends, the public will be invited to attend. More information will be posted here soon."