Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman has died at the age of 49, according to a statement released by the band today (May 2). He was with the group since their formation in 1981, and appeared on each of their studio albums, most recently 2009's 'World Painted Blood.'

The guitarist has largely been absent from the legendary metal band's live shows since contracting necrotizing fasciitis, most likely from a spider bite, in 2011. However there is no confirmation that this condition was responsible for his death, with the press release instead citing liver failure as the cause. The full statement reads:

Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11AM this morning near his Southern California home. Hanneman was in an area hospital when he suffered liver failure.  He is survived by his wife Kathy, his sister Kathy and his brothers Michael and Larry, and will be sorely missed.

Hanneman's loss is obviously a huge one to the metal community, and we send our thoughts to his family and loved ones. His friends and peers immediately flooded Twitter with a series of fond tributes to the guitarist.

More From Ultimate Classic Rock