US guitarist Jeff Hanneman, a co-founder of the seminal heavy metal band Slayer, died from liver failure in a Southern Californian hospital on Thursday, the band said. He was 49.
The band's Facebook page recently posted: "Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11am this morning near his Southern California home.
"Hanneman was in an area hospital when he suffered liver failure.
"He is survived by his wife Kathy, his sister Kathy and his brothers Michael and Larry, and will be sorely missed.
"Our Brother Jeff Hanneman, May He Rest In Peace (1964 - 2013)."
An open letter posted on the band's website said that Hannerman spent most of 2011 recovering from a flesh-eating disease contracted from a spider bite.
"What you may not have known was that for a couple of days after he went to the ER, things were touch-and-go. There was talk that he might have to have his arm amputated, and we didn't know if he was going to pull through at all," the letter said.
"He was in a medically-induced coma for a few days and had several operations to remove the dead and dying tissue from his arm. So, understand, he was in really, really bad shape. It's been about a year since he got out of the hospital, and since then, he had to learn to walk again, he's had several painful skin grafts, he's been in rehab doing exercises to regain the strength in his arm; but best of all, he's been playing guitar.
"We were all excited when he joined us onstage for the encore a year ago at The Big Four show at Coachella. Since then, we've given him all the time and support he's needed to continue his rehab so he can come back to the band fully recovered and able to deliver the kind of shows we all want him to."
Hanneman founded Slayer with fellow guitarist Kerry King in the early 1980s in suburban Los Angeles.
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 All-music.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.