LOS ANGELES

- Jeff Hanneman, a founding member of Slayer whose career was irrevocably changed after a spider bite, has died. He was 49.

Slayer spokeswoman Heidi Robinson-Fitzgerald said Hanneman died yesterday morning of liver failure at a Los Angeles hospital with his wife, Kathy, by his side.

The guitarist had recently begun writing songs with the band in anticipation of recording a new album later this year. He had been recovering from what was believed to be a spider bite that nearly cost him his arm after he failed to seek immediate treatment.

Robinson-Fitzgerald said it's believed the spider bite contributed to the failure of Hanneman's liver, but it is unclear whether an autopsy will be scheduled. No funeral arrangements have been made.

Hanneman co-founded the thrash metal pioneers in Huntington Beach, Calif., in 1982.