May 2, 2013 at 7:41 PM ET
Guitarist Jeff Hanneman, one of the founders of the thrash metal band Slayer, died Thursday of liver failure at age 49.
"Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11 a.m. this morning near his Southern California home," a statement posted on the band's Facebook page read. "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."
Hanneman and Kerry King founded the band in southern California in 1981. The band has been awarded two Grammys for best metal performance and has four gold albums.
In 2011, Hanneman contracted necrotizing fasciitis, which he believed he got from a spider bite.
In 2012, the band gave fans details about Hanneman's illness in an open letter.
"As you know, Jeff was bitten by a spider more than a year ago, but what you may not have known was that for a couple of days after he went to the ER, things were touch-and-go," the letter read. "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. 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."
While Hanneman battled the disease, Gary Holt of Exodus and Pat O'Brien from Cannibal Corpse filled in for him and performed with Slayer.
Hanneman wrote "Raining Blood," the guitar riff for which has been called one of metal's best ever and has been played at sporting events and covered by artists including Tori Amos.
In 2011, Hanneman spoke about the song to Revolver magazine, saying, "Every night when we play it, once the kids go off like they do, it gives you goose bumps. You go off. It’s still fun to play."
Fans were quick to remember Hanneman on the band's Facebook page.
"Crushing loss," wrote Al Molyneaux. "Absolutely gutted. A hero of mine and many more. RIP Jeff. Your music will live on and the influence of the music you created and help to create will continue to inspire.