Guitarist Jeff needs surgery for serious arm infection but band say they can’t cancel more shows after spate of call-offs

Jeff Hanneman

Spider bite: Jeff Hanneman

Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman has been sidelined after contracting “flesh-eating disease” necrotising fasciities in his right arm.

But after a series of tour cancellations in the past 18 months the thrash giants feel they can’t call off any more shows – so they’ll tour without him until he’s ready to return.

Doctors believe Hanneman caught the infection from a spider bite. He’s already undergone surgery but will require a series of further operations including skin grafts. Extended medical attention is already underway and he’s expected to make a full recovery.

Slayer were forced to call off a number of shows in 2009 and 2010 after frontman Tom Araya’s back began causing him serious problems. He now has a metal plate in his neck and has been forced to abandon his trademark headbanging moves on stage.

Guitarist Kerry King says: “After everything that’s happened we all agreed that we just can’t let our fans down again.”

As a result the band will complete their upcoming tour of Australia as planned. A stand-in guitarist will be announced once a choice has been made.

King continues: “Jeff is totally on board with the decision, so we will tour as planned. We can’t pinpoint what day he’ll be back, but it will be as soon as he possibly can. We can’t wait for him to get better and get his ass back on the road.”

Araya adds: “Jeff is our brother. We’ve all been friends and together as a band for almost 30 years – so we just want him to recover as soon as possible.”

Despite its popular nickname necrotising fasciitis does not actually eat flesh. It’s a rare infection which destroys skin, fat and tissue, starting below the body’s surface. Intense pain and inflammation begins hours after contracting the bug and common side-effects are diarrhoea, vomiting and fever. Nearly three in four victims die if not treated.

King recently said the secret of the band’s success was never having changed the three musicians at the front of the band, and that despite rumours they’d recorded their last album he hoped another one would be underway in the coming months.

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