Metal guitar legend Jeff Hanneman, 49, has died of liver failure, his band Slayer announced.

"Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother... passed away at about 11 am this morning," read a statement posted by the group on its Facebook page on Thursday.

Hanneman, who died at a hospital in Southern California, has been suffering since 2011 from necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease that he is believed to have contracted from a spider bite, according to news reports.

It is not known whether the illness played a role in his death.

On its website, Slayer paid tribute to "Our Brother Jeff Hanneman, May He Rest In Peace (1964 - 2013)."

The group wrote that Hanneman is survived by his wife Kathy, a sister and two brothers.

Hanneman was a founding member of Slayer, one of the premier metal bands in the United States, known for music that the group described as "punishing yet precise."

Over its nearly three-decade existence, Slayer has put out nine studio albums and performed at thousands of live shows.