DFW Music News

Slayer Will Play Tribute to Jeff Hanneman on This Tour, Just Not the Way They Wanted To

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Araya's been fronting Slayer since its early beginnings. Hanneman was a telemarketer and had met Slayer's other guitarist, King, when they auditioned for the same band. Araya had jammed with King in another band called Quits. Former drummer Dave Lombardo was delivering pizza to the guys and later asked to join their new band.

In 1986, Slayer released their third album, Reign in Blood, and critics hailed it as the best thrash metal album of all time. Their fourth album South of Heaven produced two of their most influential songs -- "South of Heaven" and "Mandatory Suicide."

Thirty years later, Slayer is still dominating stages with their mind-crushing metal.

"Dude, earplugs, I recommend them," Araya says. "I wear hearing aids. Thirty years of playing loud music on stage. Thirty years of not making any effort to protect them. I lost 10 to 20 percent of my hearing. One side is worse than the other."

Araya wears his hearing aids at home, but as soon as he hits the stage with his band Slayer, he takes them out. "Everything is loud enough as it is," he says and laughs. "My hearing's not that bad that I can't hear the music we're playing."

And it was at home where Araya learned that his friend and bandmate had passed away. He'd been sending him text messages about Hanneman's new song.

"He shared it with everybody," Araya says. "I listened to it and thought it was great. I knew exactly what he wanted. I could hear it, and I talked to him about it. He was like, 'Yeah, that's what I'm trying to do. I want to beef up the guitar sound and do more guitar chord harmonies.' He was just explaining to me the song, and I told him I'd listen to it and come up with something as far as lyrical and melody ideas."

The guys are working on a follow-up to 2012's World Painted Blood, and plan to include Hanneman's final song on the album.

"Before, when we were playing and doing these shows without Jeff, there was hope that he would come back," Araya says. "I always felt that he would come back and be part of what we do."

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Christian McPhate is an award-winning journalist who specializes in investigative reporting. He covers crime, the environment, business, government and social justice. His work has appeared in several publications, including the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Miami Herald, San Antonio Express News and The Washington Times.

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