Hanneman was very close friends with drummer Dave Lombardo, and the fine folks at Metal Hammer got Lombardo to pen a very touching tribute to the guitar innovator. The entire piece is absolutely worth your time to read, but here are some of my favorite highlights:
On the influence Jeff Hanneman had on the sound of Slayer:
Jeff was such a big influence on the sound of Slayer. We were into the typical metal of the time – Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Rainbow, Deep Purple, you know? Then one day Jeff shows up to rehearsal with a shaved head. We were all, like, “Whoa, Jeff, what’d you do?!” He went: “I’m punk. It’s over.” 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? This is fantastic!” It was a huge pivot point – our songs became faster, more aggressive after that. He was the one that brought that element to Slayer.
Lombardo praised Hanneman's musical evolution and work ethic:
What a lot of people don’t know is that Jeff was the least musically educated and least musically trained in the band. He was a novice when he joined. 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.”
He was the one who would create his own demos for the songs he was writing. He’d program the drum machine, he would have the parts already figured out in his mind, which was different to how Kerry would present his songs. I remember him commenting on my drum parts. He’d say, “Ooh, I like that, that’s tasty – make it tastier.” Or if I came up with a typical rock drum beat, he would classify that as being “cheesy”. It had to be cutting edge to make it on the record. It had to be “tasty”.
Jeff and Dave had a silly punk side project that nobody ever heard:
Jeff and I put together a side band called Pap Smear in the 90s. That was us being punk rock kids. He wanted to play bass, so we got in Rocky George from Suicidal [Tendencies], who Jeff loved – he really admired the soul Rocky had when he played. And this kid who I used to go surfing with was the singer. His name was Joey Fuchs, but he called himself Joey Hanneman and pretended to be Jeff’s brother, ’cos they both had blond hair and kind of looked like each other. We wrote maybe five or six pieces of music, but we never played a live show ’cos I feel Pap Smear was kind of taking our focus away from Slayer.
Lombardo on the one song that would define Hanneman's career in Slayer:
If there’s a single Slayer song that really defines Jeff, it’s "Necrophobic" from Reign In Blood. That was one of the fastest songs we’d done: it had this aggressive, brutal, almost monotonous sound. He’d walk around, just mimicking that sound. I remember him going, ‘This one’s fast, it’s brutal, we’re going to take it to the limit, to the point where we can’t play it any faster.’ And that’s what we did.
This one bit really warmed my heart:
Towards the last years, probably the last six months he was touring with the band, Jeff would sit on the tourbus 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 whole piece is absolutely worth going out of your way to read.