Jeff Hanneman, the co-founding guitarist of Slayer, who wrote and played on some of the most seminal albums in heavy metal history including Reign in Blood and South of Heaven, has died at the age of 49.

A statement on the band's website read: "Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11AM this morning [Thursday] 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. Our Brother Jeff Hanneman, May He Rest In Peace (1964 - 2013)."

Hanneman had contracted the flesh eating disease Necrotizing Fasciitis - believed to be from a spider bite – in 2011 and had been forced to withdraw from touring with Slayer.

Slayer are due to play Dublin's Academy on June 10th and 11th.