Jeff Hanneman, co-founder and guitarist for thrash metal band Slayer, died of liver failure at a southern California hospital on Thursday. He was 49.

The news was confirmed in a message on the band's website.

"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."

The guitarist had been on hiatus from the band since February 2011, when he was bit by a spider and nearly lost his arm to necrotizing fasciitis -- aka flesh-eating disease. Hanneman was put into a medically-induced coma while being treated and had undergone numerous operations to remove the dead and dying tissue.

Hanneman, who wrote or co-wrote most of the band's material, made his final appearance with Slayer at 2011's "Big Four Festival" in Indio, California, which featured Slayer, Anthrax,Megadeth and Metallica all together for the first time. He joined the band for two songs, and according to Rolling Stone he even cut the sleeve off his shirt to show off his disfigured arm.

A year ago the guitarist decided to sit out the band's 2012 tour, saying he needed more time to heal and continue his rehab. The band released a statement revealing that he had to "learn to walk again" and had undergone "several painful skin grafts" and was working to regain the strength in his arm.

Hanneman told Classic Rock magazine in 2011 that he never even felt the spider bite him, but within an hour he could see the "flesh corrupting" so he raced to the hospital.

"The arm was real hot. I got to the emergency room, and thank God the nurse knew straight away what it was..." he said. "Unbelievably, the doctor was a Slayer fan and the first thing he said to me was: 'First I am going to save your life. Then I am going to save your arm. Then I am going to save your career.'"

Hanneman co-founded Slayer with guitarist Kerry King in Huntington Park, California, in 1981. In 1986 the band became metal gods with their landmark album, "Reign in Blood," which remains today one of the most revolutionary metal albums ever.

There's been no word if Hanneman's death was in any way related to the spider bite.