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Kerry King’s hardest words to Hanneman

Slayer guitarist recalls having to tell late bandmate he wasn’t good enough to return

Kerry King isn’t sure that late bandmate Jeff Hanneman would ever have been good enough to return to Slayer.

He’d been out of action for two years when he died in 2013 of alcohol-related illness, while an attack of necrotising fasciitis had destroyed the muscles in his left arm.

And even though he attended rehearsals ahead of each tour he missed, he had to be told he wasn’t capable of rejoining his colleagues on the road.

King tells Guitar World: “From seven months after he got hurt, we had him come to rehearsal, trying to get him back in. He was trying, but he just wasn’t there.

“The hardest thing I ever had to say was, ‘You’re not ready.’ That dude’s been my sidekick for 25 years – and I have to tell him he can’t go on tour in the band he’s been in all his life. That sucked.”

King doesn’t know if the situation left Hanneman hurt. He continues: “I said to Jeff, ‘As much as people are going to see you up there and not grasp, or forget, that the playing is not perfect, I don’t want that on YouTube for you to live with.’

“You have to think about stupid shit like that now. But that was tough.”

He adds: “We kept trying to get him in and it wasn’t coming around. If he hadn’t passed, I don’t know if he ever would have been good enough to just step back into being Jeff Hanneman again.”

Slayer’s 11th album, Repentless – named in memory of Hanneman – is on sale now. The band return to the UK in November with Anthrax.

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