To the outside world, late Slayer guitarist and songwriter Jeff Hanneman was a misanthropic punk playing the Devil’s music. But even the most blasphemous and hardcore metal musician is human on the inside, and those who knew Jeff speak of a deeply emotional person whose passion for his craft trumped all. Now Anthrax bassist Frank Bello has opened up about the Jeff he knew, and his descriptions are heartwarming, if a little heartbreaking.
“Jeff was a fun-loving friend,” Bello told Ultimate Guitar while promoting his new book Fathers, Brothers & Sons. “That’s what I have to say; he’s one of us. Jeff was always here. You know, Jeff’s another one of those guys that pass and you see them — they’re still here with you. Like Cliff [Burton, the late Metallica bassist], these are all friends that we grew up with, you have to understand.
“And that laugh — I don’t know if you’ve ever heard Jeff laugh — it’s amazing. It makes you laugh when he laughs. He is a very fun-loving guy, a great writer…All of the above — love him, great player, you know — great stuff. But, he was one of those guys who always wanted to make you laugh, and he would. He would. He’s got that — you see, I still talk about him like he’s here ’cause I don’t think he’s ever gone. He’s always with me…
“Jeff, yeah, Jeff was the real deal. He came out on one of those shows, I think it was in California, Big Four, it was great to see him. I mean, look – I didn’t see that coming, unfortunately. I didn’t want him to pass. I didn’t know he was going to pass, I didn’t know it was that bad. But, like everything else, life throws curveballs.
“We all miss Jeff,” concludes Bello. “But what do you do, you know? We all have a part of our lives where our friends pass, families pass, and you just have to keep moving on. So, Jeff will always be there. With those songs, with Slayer, Jeff will always be in our lives. That’s the way I look at it. God rest his soul.”
Words by Chris Krovatin