Slayer Guitarist Kerry King Recalls Fun Times With Jeff Hanneman at Memorial Celebration
While several of the speakers got emotional and tears were shed at Thursday’s Jeff Hanneman Memorial Celebration at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, Slayer guitarist Kerry King chose to keep things light and upbeat while remembering his late bandmate. King used his time onstage to share several fun stories from his history with Hanneman that showed the guitarist’s spirit and good nature.
King opened by recalling the odd first meeting that he had with Hanneman, turning up to audition for a band but actually connecting with the guitarist in the lobby before entering to meet the group. After the audition, King sought out Hanneman, they exchanged numbers and the rest is history.
King shared a story of how Hanneman never drove, choosing to give up his license in his youth after getting a couple of drunk driving convictions. As a result, he and Tom Araya took turns picking up Hanneman every day to go rehearse in their studio where King actually played some drums while Hanneman handled most of the guitar parts.
The guitarist also credited Hanneman with Slayer’s punk influence. King, a hardcore metal guy early on, recalled, “Jeff was getting into punk, big time. I didn’t understand it because I was more of a Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford kind of guy — the singers. And punk seemed like a cheaped-down version with s—ty singers. And that’s what I thought for a long time, but Jeff was my doorway to punk and it really helped Slayer become kind of the bridge between the metal kids and the punk kids. I gotta tell you though, when he shaved his head I was pissed. How can you be in a metal band with a dude with a shaved head? But that’s what Jeff did cause that was Jeff.”
The story that got the biggest laugh revolved around the band’s tour with Judas Priest and King having too much to drink. “I’d had too much which usually isn’t my style,” said King. “It was that time and at least I had the window seat and I went to roll down the window and it was one of those child windows that only went down halfway. And luckily back then I didn’t have all this (his beard) or it would have been much worse, so I’m doing my best to get the puke out of the car and you know, it didn’t make it. It’s on my arm, it’s on my chin and Hanneman is sitting next to me and he looks at me and says, ‘Dude, that’s the best thing I’ve ever seen.’ I’m all pissed off with puke all over me and he’s like, ‘(laughing) that’s the best thing ever.’ He was soaked and it didn’t matter he had puke on him because he had such a good time that day. And I’ll never forget that story.”
King closed out his time with a story about some of the hijinks he and Hanneman enjoyed at the expense of manager Rick Sales, who had tried to pre-emptively hit them with a wet cloth towel and missed. Unfortunately for Sales, King and Hanneman took the towel and got their revenge, beaning him in the forehead for a restaurant full of people to hear.
The guitarist ended his speech asking the audience to remember his friend well, and with the light-hearted stories, that’s a definite. To see a full report on the Jeff Hanneman Memorial Celebration, click here.
Watch Fan-Filmed Video of Kerry King’s Speech at the Jeff Hanneman Memorial Celebration