Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.

In Hollywood, a rowdy goodbye for Slayer's Jeff Hanneman

Slayer (music group)SuicideDeftones (music group)

The afternoon light leaked through the open doors of the Hollywood Palladium on Thursday. But inside the venue, everything was lighted red enough to resemble a reign in blood.

The thousands-deep line outside for Thursday’s memorial for founding Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman (who died earlier this month at age 49) proved that the service was more than just appropriate -- for metal fans, it was necessary. Few bands command the kind of loyalty that the Southland metal pioneers have enjoyed for three decades. Drawing your first Slayer logo in a school notebook is practically a rite of passage, and learning Hanneman’s jackhammer guitar riffs is a sacrament of angry teenagedom.

The Hanneman and Slayer families are surely going through their own private grief. But for a few hours Thursday, the tribe of metal fans came together for a final rowdy goodbye. 

PHOTOS: Iconic rock guitars and their owners

As the lines of black-clad masses wound up Argyle Avenue, inside the venue, the service was the opposite of somber, yet wholly apropos. A pile of Marshall stack amplifiers filled the stage with an array of Hanneman’s guitars lined up in a 21-gun salute. Almost every bar in the place was open and serving briskly by 4 p.m. If there was a day when a Slayer fan needed a drink, it was this one.

Between the deaths of  Hanneman, Deftones bassist Chi Cheng and Suicide Silence vocalist Mitch Lucker, it's been a particularly bleak year for metal. Upstairs at the Palladium, Suicide Silence’s guitarist Mark Heylmun tried to wring some meaning out of it all.

“We were literally on our way to the Golden Gods Awards to present an award in memory of Mitch, when we got the news about Jeff,” he said, with a bit of deadpan disbelief. “I had a total ‘Detroit Rock City’ story about first going to see Slayer, and they took us on an arena tour when we were just a little club band. I guess it all just reminds me that I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing with my life. But I think about it every day.”

The memorial was more of a metal head’s Irish wake. Reps from the band’s management, label, favorite gear companies and peers paid tribute in stories. Slayer lead guitarist Kerry King recounted a rare time when King’s liquor overtook him and he accidentally vomited on Hanneman in the back of a car (Hanneman’s alleged reaction? “That was awesome!”). 

King's fondest gesture was to tell how Hanneman (who had taken time off from touring to recover from a vicious spider bite infection) was about to play a few songs at a Big 4 festival show (with Metallica, Anthrax and Megadeth). Instead of hiding his wounds with his long-sleeve shirt, Hanneman tore the sleeve off it to show the crowd what he was going through. At that, the Palladium crowd howled with admiration.

Dino Paredes of the band’s label, American Recordings, looked overwhelmed by the event, choking up as he recalled decades of working with a band whose sound and scene was so singular and uncompromising. “Jeff always did whatever Jeff wanted to do. It could be frustrating, but he always stood by what he believed in. Go back and listen to ‘World Painted Blood,’ there was so much of Jeff’s heart and soul in that,” he said.

Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo and System of a Down’s Shavo Odadjian each attested to Hanneman's  instrumental prowess, and his quiet sense of humor that made close and lifelong friends. “Without Jeff Hanneman, there would be no System of a Down,” Odadjian said.

The only truly quiet moment came when a letten sent by Hanneman’s wife, Kathryn, was read to the crowd. It was both a love letter to her husband, and a lifelong thank-you card to the Slayer devoted, who made Hanneman’s life what it was. “May you continue to reign in heaven,” she wrote.

Right after the reading, the service returned to classic Slayer form. No less than five limb-flailing circle pits broke out among the crowd during a slide show montage set to Slayer classics. “You guys are . . . crazy,” said the officiant, Nick Bowcott of Marshall. But the time for funeral decorum was later. This was a Slayer celebration, in the way that every day with a formative, life-changing band can be. Bowcott surveyed his crowd and smiled. “And he absolutely would have wanted it this way.” 

ALSO:

PHOTOS: Notable deaths of 2013

Founding Slayer Guitarist Jeff Hanneman dies

Slayer's Jeff Hanneman: Ten clips that showcase his fury

PHOTOS AND MORE PHOTOS: Concerts by the Times PHOTOS: Unexpected musical collaborations PHOTOS: Musician feuds: The dirt & details

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
Slayer (music group)SuicideDeftones (music group)
  • Police shootings spur workers compensation awards
    Police shootings spur workers compensation awards

    Ever since her bipolar, unarmed son was shot and killed during a struggle with Baltimore police, Marcella Holloman has felt a sense of soul-crushing loss. She breaks out into shakes, and feels angry all the time. She sees other happy families — and resents them.

  • Hopkins picked to create Ebola training tool
    Hopkins picked to create Ebola training tool

    Federal health regulators picked Johns Hopkins Medicine on Friday to lead development of a Web-based tool to train doctors, nurses and other health care workers on the protocols they should follow when treating patients with, or at risk of contracting, Ebola.

  • Police search Towson U office of rabbi
    Police search Towson U office of rabbi

    Police searching the Towson University office of a prominent Georgetown rabbi accused of secretly recording women in a ritual bath found a backpack with an assortment of tiny cameras hidden in everyday household objects, including a computer charger, a clock and a tissue box, according to a...

  • In rare move, hands-on Ulman seeks job as No. 2
    In rare move, hands-on Ulman seeks job as No. 2

    Democrat Ken Ulman, dressed in Lucky jeans and a polo shirt, strode to the entrance of Robinson Nature Center, excited to give a tour of one of his favorite accomplishments as Howard County executive.

  • Rutherford known for 'making the trains run on time'
    Rutherford known for 'making the trains run on time'

    Boyd Rutherford was raised in a Democratic family in Democratic Northeast Washington, but the running mate of Republican Larry Hogan says he decided early on that the GOP was closer to his values.

  • Sun endorsement: Brown for governor
    Sun endorsement: Brown for governor

    Our view: The race presented a difficult choice, but we believe the lieutenant governor would be better able to enact the changes needed to maintain Md.'s prosperity

Comments
Loading