You’ve gotta give the Westboro Baptist Church at least this: they know when they’re outnumbered. The Jeff Hanneman public memorial went off without a hitch last night, as several thousand mourners packed the Hollywood Palladium. Speakers for the event included Hanneman’s bandmate Kerry King, Metal Blade president Brian Slagel, and former Grim Reaper guitarist and current Marshall Amp director of marketing and artist relations Nick Bowcott, who officiated the event. Noticeably absent from the proceedings was the Westboro Baptist Church, who had announced plans to picket Hanneman’s funeral.
According to NME, when the doors opened, there were already hundreds of people in line around three corners of the block. Once inside, the mourners were given a program and a lanyard that read “Our Brother Jeff Hanneman, May He Rest In Peace (1964 – 2013).” The stage featured an American flag, a portrait of Hanneman, floral tributes and a selection of Hanneman’s guitars. Aside from King and Slagel, other speakers included Metallica’s Robert Trujillo, System of a Down’s Shavo Odadjian and American Recordings’ Dino Paredes. King, sipping from a glass of Jagermeister, told stories about getting drunk with Hanneman, who died earlier this month from cirrhosis. The send off was probably the first time there’s been mass moshing at a memorial service, and Jeff probably wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Slayer had urged fans to ignore the Westboro Batptist Church at the memorial if they were outside picketing. It looks like the church took the band’s advice as well, since they didn’t show up, despite repeated threats to. It’s not surprising that the fringe group would prove to be all bark and no bite. While they might think that just the press that they got for threatening to show up is good press, that’s not the case. Universally hated just for their beliefs, they didn’t even have the balls to follow through with their threat, making them even sadder than they already were.
Click through for fan-filmed footage of King, Trujillo, Odadjian, Slagel, Parades and Bowcott, courtesy of theprp.