“I think Jeff not being around had a lot to do with Tom leaving Slayer”: Jeff Hanneman wouldn’t have wanted Slayer to retire, says Kerry King

Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman
(Image credit: Annamaria DiSanto/WireImage)

Slayer’s Kerry King has said that late guitarist Jeff Hanneman may have stopped the thrash veterans from retiring in 2019.

Hanneman co-founded Slayer with King, vocalist/bassist Tom Araya and drummer Dave Lombardo in 1981 and died of liver failure in 2013, aged 49.

Talking to Total Guitar (via Guitar.com), King has said that Hanneman’s death weighed particularly heavy on Araya and that, if he were still alive, the guitarist would have wanted the thrashers to remain active.

“If Jeff was still here, would there be another Slayer record? Who knows?” says King.

“I mean, Jeff weighed on Tom a lot and I think Jeff not being around had a lot to do with Tom leaving Slayer.

“But, you know, if that fucking dumbass Jeff was still here, he’d be wanting us to play. I know he would. And if I played this album [King’s new solo album, From Hell I Rise] for Jeff, he would fuckin’ love it.”

King also expresses his own frustration at Slayer’s retirement five years ago.

“I mean, me being not in Slayer sucks,” he says.

“I want Slayer to exist, so this is the only way I know how to do that. To me, it would be weird to do anything else.”

Slayer disbanded following an extensive farewell tour but reunited in February to play three US festival dates in late 2024.

King recently said that the thrashers turned down offers to come back “probably every month of every year”, but the fact that 2024 marked five years since Slayer’s final show made the guitarist reconsider.

“These three festivals are right around the five-year anniversary of our last tour, which I thought was kind of cool,” he said.

“So, I thought this might be the right time to test the water. It will be great to play for the fans again.”

King announced his upcoming solo album, From Hell I Rise, two weeks before the news of Slayer’s reactivation.

The guitarist said in the new issue of Metal Hammer, where he appears on the cover, that the timing of Slayer’s comeback announcement “was not [his] favourite”.

“The announcement came, and people got all excited or all pained about it, but hopefully when I release another song, the attention will switch back to my record,” he explained.

From Hell I Rise comes out Friday (May 17) and King will tour extensively with his solo band to promote the album. See dates and get tickets via the guitarist’s website.

Order the new issue of Metal Hammer – featuring interviews with Kerry King, Within Temptation, While She Sleeps and more – now and get it delivered directly to your doorstep.

Kerry King on the cover of Metal Hammer

(Image credit: Future (Cover shot: Travis Shinn))
Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.