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Slayer Guitarist Jeff Hanneman: Spider Bite Nearly Killed Me

Jeff Hanneman
Dave Etheridge-Barnes, Getty Images

“I was an hour away from death,” Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman tells UK’s Classic Rock magazine about the infected spider bite that has kept him off the road since January.

Hanneman was relaxing in a hot tub drinking beer when he saw the bite on his arm. “[I] didn’t even feel it,” he recalls. “But an hour away later, I knew that I was ill… I could see the flesh corrupting. The arm was real hot.”

An ambulance rushed the guitarist to the hospital and he was diagnosed him with necrotizing fasciitis, a bacterial infection in the skin and arm. Realizing the severity of the condition, doctors immediately underwent surgery to remove the dead and dying tissue, saving the muscles and tendons in Hanneman’s arm, but leaving him with an open wound that has required extensive skin grafts over a two month period. Hanneman has also been on heavy doses of antibiotics to heal the infection.

The rehabilitation process was grueling for the guitarist, who couldn’t stand for a month and suffered weakening in all the muscles in his muscles and tendons of his infected arm. “It’s the kind of thing I might have written a song about,” Hanneman said. “Everything that could go wrong this year did, but you know, it turned out okay. Satan had my back.”

While Hanneman was incapacitated, Exodus guitarist Gary Holt filled in for him on tour, including the Big 4 shows. The guitarist is currently undergoing physical rehabilitation to strengthen the arm and says he’s on the mend. But he didn’t indicate how long it would be until he’s ready to rejoin Slayer.

Drummer Dave Lombardo has said on his Facebook page that the band is currently working on the follow up to ‘World Painted Blood,’ but Tom Araya told Billboard.com that the band will not enter the studio until Hanneman is fully recovered.

 

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