Update, May 10: The band revealed Jeff's cause of death in a statement posted to the band's website yesterday: "We've just learned that the official cause of Jeff's death was alcohol related cirrhosis. While he had his health struggles over the years, including the recent Necrotizing fasciitis infection that devastated his well-being, Jeff and those close to him were not aware of the true extent of his liver condition until the last days of his life. Contrary to some reports, Jeff was not on a transplant list at the time of his passing, or at any time prior to that. In fact, by all accounts, it appeared that he had been improving — he was excited and looking forward to working on a new record."
Original Story, May 2:
It's a sad day for music — especially for metal fans! Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman, one of their founding members, died of liver failure today at age 49, reports Billboard. A prolific songwriter for the band, he co-wrote what is maybe their most iconic song, "Raining Blood."
Slayer's publicist released this statement: "Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11AM this morning near his Southern California home. He was 49. Hanneman was in an area hospital when he suffered liver failure. He is survived by his wife Kathy, his sister Kathy and his brothers Michael and Larry, and will be sorely missed."
Just a year ago, Jeff had to miss Slayer's summer tour while recovering from the flesh-eating virus necrotizing fasciitis. He needed several skin-graft operations and had to re-learn how to walk. It's unclear if this is at all related to his death, but he certainly went through a lot recently!
More on this story as it develops. We wish the best to his family and bandmates.