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Jeff Hanneman’s Widow Kathryn Recalls How She First Met the Slayer Guitarist

Jeff Hanneman
Herfitz PR / Photo Credit: Andrew Stuart

Of course, the metal world misses iconic Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman. The axeman was one of thrash metal’s greatest songwriters and it’s truly sad that Hanneman will never bestow us with another gigantic riff. As much as we miss Hanneman, it’s nothing compared to what the guitarist’s wife Kathryn must be going through. In memory of her late husband, Kathryn Hanneman recently shared the sort-of heartwarming and metal-as-hell story of how the two met.

“My girlfriend and I were getting tired of going to the movies every weekend, so we decided to go see this band called Slayer at a little club in Buena Park called the Woodstock,” Kathryn tells Guitar World. “They were playing with a band called Leatherwolf. I begged my father to let us go to the show, knowing that I would be home later than my 10 o’clock curfew, and he was okay with that. There may have been 15 or 20 people at the show, so I was able to stand up front against the stage, on Jeff’s side. And before I knew it, he kneeled down, grabbed me by the hair, and started making out with me. I was blown away, and that was how we met.”

It may not sound like the most romantic first impression, but it birthed a 30-year relationship between the two. “I asked the manager if he could have Jeff call me, and he told me Jeff was in Vegas visiting his grandmother,” Kathryn continues. “I thought that was so sweet. About three weeks later, I was at home and my phone rang one night, and I picked it up and the voice on the other end said, ‘Hi, Kathy, this is Jeff from Slayer.’ And my heart started racing. I asked him how his grandmother was, and he said to me, ‘I wasn’t visiting my grandmother. I went to Vegas to break up with my girlfriend.’ And that was what I loved about Jeff—he was honest from the get-go.”

Kathryn adds, “I was around 16 at the time. Jeff called me one evening and said they were about to do this photo shoot and that the girl they were going to use broke her toe and had to cancel, so he asked if I would fill in. And that I needed to bring some sort of black lingerie. I told him I had to get permission from my parents but that I’d be happy to do it. And since neither of us had driver’s licenses, Tom [Araya] came out and picked me up and we went to the garage at Tom’s parents’ house, which is where they would rehearse, and we did the shoot. I was very shy and conservative in those days, but it was the least I could do. I was honored that they chose me.”

Check out that very photo below, and note that Jeff Hanneman is most definitely copping a feel with his future wife. To read Guitar World’s full tribute to Jeff Hanneman, click here.


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