LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. guitarist Jeff Hanneman, a co-founder of the seminal heavy metal band Slayer, died in Southern California on Thursday, the band said in a statement posted on their website. He was 49.
"Hanneman was in an area hospital when he suffered liver failure," the band said.
Hanneman founded Slayer with fellow guitarist Kerry King in the early 1980s in suburban Los Angeles.
The band was known as one of the "big four" thrash metal groups of the 1980s, along with Anthrax, Megadeth and Metallica.
The thrash metal genre was distinct for its extremely fast tempo, big double-bass drums and dark themes, often dealing with Satanism, war and serial killers.
Music website Allmusic.com said the band's trademark "full-throttle velocity, wildly chaotic guitar solos, and powerful musical chops paint an effectively chilling sonic background for their obsessive chronicling of the dark side."
Hanneman is best known as a writer of the songs "Raining Blood" and "Angel of Death" from the 1986 album "Reign of Blood," which is considered a landmark of the genre.
Hanneman is survived by his wife and three siblings.