In the August 2013 issue of Guitar World magazine, SLAYER's Kerry King speaks about the personal relationship he had with fellow SLAYER guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who died May 2 from alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver, a result of a lifetime of drinking.
"[Any time we would finish a tour, Jeff] would just go home and detach," King says. "He might have lived only 45 minutes away, but unless you were part of his inner circle, it was hard to stay in touch with him. And it took me a few years to understand that. For a while I was just like, 'Why isn't this guy calling me back?' But as I got older, I just realized that that was who Jeff was.
"I don't think Jeff and I were ever best friends," continues King. "I think we were probably the closest in the band, but never best friends. To put it in a way that everyone could understand, Jeff and I were like business partners. Was he my friend? Of course he was my friend. But we didn't really act like that. The last time I was at Jeff's house was January 2003. We went to his place to watch the Raiders in the playoffs. And it sounds horrible, but it wasn't horrible. That was just how it was."
Speaking to Australia's "Distortion" radio show in March during this year's Soundwave festival, King said about Hanneman: "I don't really speak to Jeff. And that's nothing new or bad or… He's always been a recluse, and since he hasn't been jamming with us, he's been a bigger recluse. I think the last time I tried to reach out to him, he e-mailed something about something business-wise, and I just sent something back, 'Hey, man, what's going on? I haven't heard from you in a while. How are you doing?' And I didn't get nothing. I'm not the kind of guy that chases friendships; I'm not the kind of guy that chases [people, saying], 'Hey, man, you didn't answer me.' So… It's his gig. And I've always said that, first and foremost, [SLAYER fill-in guitarist] Gary [Holt, who is also a member of EXODUS] does a wonderful job and I love playing with Gary and hopefully Gary is free anytime SLAYER goes out, but if Jeff came to my house in the morning and said, 'Man, I'm ready. I can play the shit. I'm ready to go.'... It's Jeff's gig. It's always gonna be Jeff's gig until Jeff says, 'I can't do it.'"
To read more of the Guitar World interview, purchase a copy of the August 2013 issue at this location.