slayer - postmortem
rest in peace jeff hanneman
RIP Jeff Hanneman
You were a great musician and a lovely, nice guy.
The world is worse without you.
The loss of Jeff Hanneman can not be understated. His frenetic energy and style are a trademark of the thrash metal genre, and has been a huge influence on my own playing. Another great we’ve lost too soon. RIP JEFF.
My condolences go out to the family of Jeff Hanneman, his friends, Slayer, and Slayer fans.
Yesterday, thrash metal gods Slayer posted an open letter to fans regarding the ill health of guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who suffered a spider bite last year that
Another musician went down today, albeit one for whom most of my friends probably have little fondness: Jeff Hanneman, the founding co-lead guitarist/singer/songwriter for the foundational thrash metal band Slayer. According to the band’s publicist, Hanneman died of liver failure, possibly relating to a necrotic spider bite two years ago that took him out of the band’s lineup.
The Slayer boys were L.A. kids, from Huntington Park. Some years before they hit the top, I stumbled upon a gig they played at the Music Machine in West L.A. It was the loudest goddamn thing I’d ever heard.
When “Reign in Blood” came out in 1986, I took a liking for its manic, wound-up cartoon metal, neatly packaged by producer Rick Rubin. I jumped at the chance to cover their August 12, 1988, show at the Hollywood Palladium for Billboard.
It proved to be my strangest assignment ever: I wound up writing both a review of the gig and an account of the riot outside the venue.
I knew something was up when I went to use the ATM in the office building at the corner of Sunset and Vine, just west of the Palladium, shortly before the show. As I was withdrawing my cash, I heard a commotion in the adjacent lot. I peeked my head around the corner, and discovered what looked like dozens of LAPD officers in full riot gear.
Undeterred, I made my way into the Palladium, noting with a chill that many hirsute, angry, and fucked-up-looking youths were milling around outside, looking for tickets to the sold-out gig.
Inside, the place was wall-to-wall with amped-up Slayer freaks. These hirsute partiers didn’t much care about their own safety or anyone else’s. Just getting up and down the stairs to the men’s room was an adventure. I was beyond any doubt the oldest guy in the building.
From the safe vantage point of the Palladium’s upstairs balcony, I looked down on the largest mosh pits I’d ever seen in my life. As Slayer’s unrelenting blare poured from the PA, two enormous whirlpools of humanity circulated on the floor. The crowd was in constant, violent motion for the show’s duration. Just watching the action from a distance was dizzying.
But that was nothing compared to the action in the streets outside at show’s end. I stepped out into a full-blown confrontation between the cops, who had been lying in wait for something to detonate, and the fans who had been shut out of the show. A police chopper illuminated the Palladium parking lot as the LAPD chased down some of the miscreants and beat them to the ground with their nightsticks. I hadn’t seen anything like it since my streetfighting days at the University of Wisconsin.
Unfortunately I can’t find a link to either my review or my news story in the Google Books archive. Here’s a taste of the TV news coverage of the set-to.
No one bothered to look into how the situation may have been a pure police set-up. There was certainly no doubt in my mind that it was.
I retreated to the comparatively quiet confines of Raji’s two blocks away on Hollywood Boulevard and cowered there until bar time. The next day, I went in to the office in Beverly Hills and wrote my double-barreled coverage.
Rest in peace and reign in blood, Jeff. You knew how to put on one hell of a show.