Legendary Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo is a busy man these days, manning the skins for the Misfits, Suicidal Tendencies and Dead Cross. However, he recently took some time to pen a letter about his former Slayer bandmate Jeff Hanneman.

Hanneman passed away in 2013 from cirrhosis of the liver, also having battled necrotizing fasciitis from a 2011 spider bite. In the decades preceding Hanneman’s death, he left an indelible impression on Lombardo, including introducing his rhythm anchor to punk rock.

“One day Jeff shows up to rehearsal with a shaved head,” Lombardo recalls for Metal Hammer. “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 continues, “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” … If there’s a single Slayer song that really defines Jeff, it’s “Necrophobic” from Reign In Blood. 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.”

The drummer also shared how difficult it was to part ways with Hanneman after his various ailments caught up with Slayer’s riff lord. “Towards the end of his time in Slayer, he had gotten to a point where his performance wasn’t up to par with the rest of the band. The alcohol was taking its toll, and so were the operations he had had. It was sad, but we had to make the decision and break the news to him. I know that it crushed him.”

Read the full heartfelt letter from Dave Lombardo at Metal Hammer.

See Dave Lombardo in the Top 66 Hard Rock + Metal Drummers of All Time

 

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