Dave Lombardo Shares Heartfelt Tribute to Slayer's Jeff Hanneman | Revolver

Dave Lombardo Shares Heartfelt Tribute to Slayer's Jeff Hanneman

Drummer shares old memories, bittersweet stories of friend and former bandmate
hanneman.jpg, Photoshot
Jeff Hanneman 2005
photograph by Photoshot

This past May marked the fifth anniversary of Jeff Hanneman's death from to liver failure following a long battle with alcoholism exacerbated by a spider bite that affected his mobility and guitar playing. To honor Hannemans's enormous legacy as songwriter and guitarist in the paradigmatic thrash band Slayer, former bandmate/drummer Dave Lombardo composed a moving tribute essay for Metal Hammer. Outlining their beginnings in Slayer, Lombardo reminisces on Hanneman's introduction of punk to the rest of the band who were firmly into "the typical metal of the time — Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Rainbow, Deep Purple ... And he brought all of this music with him: some vinyl, some cassettes — Black Flag, TSOL, Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks. I was, like, 'Wow, what rock have I been under?'"

In line with his love of punk, Hanneman's relative inexperience and initial lack of instrumental virtuosity proved a boon for the burgeoning group. "What a lot of people don't know is that Jeff was the least musically educated and least musically trained in the band," says Lombardo. "He was a novice when he joined." The drummer continues, "I'd been in two or three bands before that, but Slayer was his first. He didn't know much, but he slowly developed and played and taught himself. It was, like, 'Wow, dude, you forged that path, you did it yourself.'"

While the uniquely talented shredder's death came far too early when he was just 49 years old, Lombardo assures fans Hanneman was aware and proud of his own accomplishments and impact on the metal community. "Towards the last years, probably the last six months he was touring with the band, Jeff would sit on the tour bus and reflect on the shows. He'd go, 'Damn, man, "Angel of Death" turned out great tonight.' And after a couple of drinks, he'd be like: 'I wrote that shit, Dave. I wrote that shit.' He was so proud of those classic songs he'd written. He was so proud of what he'd done."

The essay goes on to postulate that Hanneman wouldn't be ready for retirement at this stage had he survived, and cites "Necorophobic" as the defining anthem he wrote during his tenure in the group. Read the full tribute here and catch Slayer (featuring Exodus guitarist Gary Holt in Hanneman's place) on their current final world tour