I can't believe it. I woke up at my usual silly o'clock this morning with an idea for a blog post in my head, but before I type it up I find out online that the Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman has just died from liver failure at the age of 49 (see here). The sun is coming up here, it's a beautiful morning and I was going to write about something else, but if you are a big time music fan and for nearly all of your life have been into various bands then I am sure you will understand my shock................
49 is far too young for anybody to die as it is. I haven't got a clue what Jeff Hanneman was like as a person, but as a guitarist for arguably the most influential thrash metal bands of all time then we was up there as something pretty special - and yes, as much as I like the earlier Metallica stuff, Slayer will always rule as the kings of thrash metal. And yes, of course, Reign in Blood is playing as I am writing this blog post - twenty eight minutes of musical perfection that helped shape my music obsession.
If music isn't a big part of your life then you'll never understand how those of us who are obsessed with it almost invest a part of ourselves in "our" music. Some of my most vivid childhood memories are in fact based around music, or to be more precise, hearing specific albums for the first times and realising that there was another whole world of music out there than say the stuff my folks would play. Remember that back in those days we were buying tapes and records and the internet didn't exist and I can vividly remember hearing Slayer's Reign in Blood album for the first time when I was a thirteen year old at boarding school. Talk about a life-changer.
When you grow up with these bands I suppose you expect them to last forever, and of course those albums you have listened to for years and years have become a part of you and your memories. I can't imagine the day when say Iron Maiden hang their boots up, Slayer stop touring or Metallica actually remember what it was like to be a thrash metal band, find a bit of hunger again and release an album worthy of their earlier legacy. What happens to Slayer now that Jeff Hanneman has died ? I just can't believe it. Our musical heroes aren't meant to die like that, far too young, and with surely so much more left to give. RIP Jeff Hanneman.