Slayer's Jeff Hanneman Dies Coke-Free

By Chrisanne Grise 05/03/13

The heavy metal pioneer, who kicked cocaine and stuck to Heineken, dies at 49.

Hanneman slayed his coke habit. Photo via

Legendary guitarist Jeff Hanneman died yesterday of liver failure at age 49. One of the founding members of prominent '80s heavy metal band Slayer, Hanneman is probably best known for the songs he wrote on 1986’s Reign of Blood, including “Raining Blood” and “Angel of Death.” Hanneman admitted to excessive drug use during the band's peak heyday, but ultimately kicked cocaine after it became a habit. "I used to take a lot of pills—uppers, speed—before I joined the band,” he told in 2004, “and then when we were making the first few albums I used to do coke. But one day we just quit. [Singer] Tom [Araya] and I were driving to my girlfriend's parents' house, and I was sticking coke up his nose while he was driving, and I suddenly thought, 'What the hell am I doing?' We both looked at each other and we said, 'No more!' So I just drink alcohol now." Hanneman was a big fan of Heineken—so much so that he even had a guitar designed with his name written in the style of its logo. Still, reports suggest that the liver failure was not a result of alcohol use, but may have been caused by necrotizing fasciitis, a rare skin tissue disease that Hanneman contracted two years ago from a spider bite. He almost lost his arm at the time, and was briefly in a medically-induced coma. But after a series of skin grafts, he’d been recovering and hoping to return to Slayer eventually.

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Chrisanne Grise is a multimedia journalist specializing in health/fitness, lifestyle, travel, bridal, and music. Her work has appeared in print and online for publications such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Parents, FitnessMagazine, Fisher Price, Bridal Guide, Scholastic's Choices,,, and more. She is the Senior Editor at The New York Times Upfront. Follow her on Linkedin and Twitter.