Noted author and tour manager, Mark Workman, offers a gritty rock n’ roll narrative about Slayer and recollections of their late guitarist, Jeff Hanneman.
Slayer has just begun their North America tour, a month-long massacre of the USA featuring special guest stars Suicidal Tendencies and the Bay Areaâ€™s own hometown thrash legends Exodus igniting the dynamite each night. With Steve â€œZetroâ€ Souza now back in Exodus and their explosive new album Blood In, Blood Out just released, venue managers across the nation are probably taking secret construction bids to repair their venues after the daily demolition has concluded.
But what does the bona fide thrash metal legend, Slayer, have left to prove?
While I write, I listen to Slayerâ€™s masterful creation, Reign In Blood, featuring my greatest thrash metal song of all time, “Angel of Death,” written by late lead guitarist Jeff Hanneman, and wonder how much Slayerâ€™s upcoming new album will muscle up to their classic work.
Iâ€™ve always said thereâ€™s no guitar player that could step into the exalted shoes of the Angel of Death, Jeff Hanneman, except Gary Holt, the brain of Exodus, a band that threw one of the first punches in the war that has been the perpetual fight of thrash metal to win its rightful legitimacy in the music world.
Thrash metal has always been the maltreated stepchild in the music business, fighting for every crumb it can get to stay alive, despite having some of the most fiercely loyal fans in the world.
I was Slayerâ€™s lighting designer for years, touring with them on the South of Heaven, Seasons In The Abyss, Decade of Aggression, and Diabolus In Musica albums and more than Iâ€™m willing to expend in personal memory research right now.
I think of my old friend Jeff Hanneman while listening to these Slayer songs. He was a great man who had his burdens; but none of us are without sin, cracks in our faults, and bloody blemishes on our personal lives. Iâ€™m the poster child for that.
I havenâ€™t met the perfect musician yet, and I doubt I ever will.
One of my fondest memories of Jeff Hanneman happened while on tour somewhere in the world. I was in my hotel room on a day off, and Iâ€™d decided that it was time to call my wife and have phone sex. Yes, it was difficult keeping a marriage alive while constantly on tour with Satan.
Holy water, anyone?
I donâ€™t remember if I had a cell phone then, maybe left it on a bar top like I sometimes did, or just got pissed off and threw it out the hotel window. So, like a dumbass, I called my wife on the hotel phone, too drunk to realize that the loyal load I was about to bust all over the hotel room carpet for the poor beleaguered maid to clean up was going to cost me a small fortune in hotel long distance minutes.
Luckily for AT&T, I rarely suffered from premature ejaculation. Cocaine, the male chastity belt, was a helluvaâ€™ drug. It was a long phone thrill.
I turned on the pay-per-view fuck films in my hotel room, struggled to find a human porn mannequin that even remotely turned me on as much as my wife, took a shower to wash away my future sins, and called my beautiful wife who spent most of her time crossing off days on the calendar until I finally came home, always wondering why she was living her life alone every day.
They all figure out that perplexing mystery sooner or later. Mine certainly did.
I looked in the mirror, sucked in my gut for a woman who couldnâ€™t see me on the phone, made sure that I looked as close to Fabio as delusionally possible, did a line of coke and prayed to God that my cock still had some life left in it, picked up the phone, drunkenly navigated the dial pad, and called home.
My wife answered the phone. In my most romantic words possible, I said, â€œI miss you, baby. Wannaâ€™ fuck?â€
I never said I was Don Juan.
What happens next is redacted for confidentiality purposes and to preserve what little dignity I have left in life.
Creating my structure, now I shall reign in blood.
â€œWhat the fuck is going on, Workman !â€
From my drunken slumber, I could hear a voice that sounded familiar, but my body, and right arm, was drained from an exertion that only a pro tennis player could understand.
Coming to life, I saw the SWAT team kicking down my door, the Taliban coming through the skylight, and DEA frogmen swimming up through the toilet. I raised my hands above my head in submission, waiting for the hollow point bullets to penetrate me.
â€œWake up, Workman!â€
I shook myself awake and looked up to see Jeff Hanneman screaming down at me with his big smile plastered across his face.
â€œHow did you get in my room, Jeff?â€
Itâ€™s difficult to wake up naked, slobbering into a telephone mouthpiece with its cord wrapped around your neck, cock in hand, your belly covered in your own cum, staring up at your employer.
â€œDude, are you out of your mind? Your door is wide open and youâ€™re lying here with your dick in your hand like youâ€™re in a fucking Playgirl photo shoot,â€ Jeff screamed down at me, cackling his signature laugh.
â€œI had to have phone sex with my . . . â€œ
Hanneman looked over at the total waste of my credit card limit on the TV, a sinful altar at the end of my bed, and said, â€œIâ€™ve been waiting for you for an hour. Put some fucking clothes on and come to the bar, bitch! We have drinking to do, Workman!â€
Bastard sons begat your cunting daughters, promiscuous mothers with your incestuous fathers.
As Jeff tore out of my hotel room, laughing, leaving the door even more wide open, I looked down at the mess that was me, and mumbled to myself, â€œHard being married out here.â€
I picked up the remote control, shook my head in disgust, and turned off the haggard brunette having vigorous sex with three black midgets.
Jesus, God. I need to go home.
I was doing my lighting designer gig for Anthrax at the Golden Gods awards show in Los Angeles the day Jeff Hanneman died. Metallica was headlining the show. My old client Danzig was on the bill right before Metallica.
I was looking forward to the broadcast. Chuck Billy, the singer of Testament, my longest-running client of twenty-five years, was presenting an award at the show. There wasnâ€™t time for me to program my light show for Anthrax so I went to eat sushi with Chuck and his wife Tiffany.
When I returned to the venue, the first person I saw was my old friend music business, publicist Maria Ferrero, and her staff, Rikki and Natalie. She walked up to me and said, â€œMark, I need to speak to you.â€
Today, I can vaguely remember the words that came out of her mouth, something about Jeff Hanneman dying and how she didnâ€™t want me to find out about it on the Internet or from people at the show. I will always appreciate Mariaâ€™s kindness and concern that day.
I only remember screaming, â€œNo!â€
It deeply hurt to know that Jeff Hanneman went out that way dead from alcoholism. I carry around a lot of guilt when I think of the many times we drank together, laughing and enjoying life.
I walked away from Maria, went to the store next door, bought a pack of cigarettes, went to the bar below Club Nokia and got drunk, pissing away months of sobriety. Jeffâ€™s death was too much to take.
I donâ€™t have a lot of recollection of doing that Anthrax show that night. I do remember my old friend Big Rob, Metallicaâ€™s lighting designer, standing behind me during the show, watching my back, knowing that it was a hard time for me. I will always appreciate Big Rob for that.
It was even harder when Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown came out with Anthrax and kicked into Raining Blood after finishing Panteraâ€™s song This Love. I didnâ€™t even remember doing the TV broadcast, and it took months before I could even watch it.
Slayer will never be quite the same without Jeff Hanneman, but the train rolls on.
When Iâ€™m an old man sitting in my rocking chair, possibly trying to entice ex-wives into phone sex, Iâ€™ll still be listening to Slayer and the rest of the best. Thereâ€™s no other music like it.
God help my neighbors in the old folkâ€™s home.
Our favorite songs are so important to us because we have special memories attached to them. Thatâ€™s what great music is all about.
Kerry King, Tom Araya, Gary Holt, and Paul Bostaph are going to write the best Slayer albums possible from this day forward; and thatâ€™s something. It will be the same, only different; but Slayer is not done yet. I believe there is still more greatness ahead of them.
Slayer strikes again, and thereâ€™s no stopping them.