Who was Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan?
Jimmy Sullivan, also known by his stage name The Rev, was an American musician and a founding member of the heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold. He played drums, piano, and provided backing and co-lead vocals for the band. He was also the lead vocalist and pianist for the avant-garde metal band Pinkly Smooth and a former drummer for the ska punk band Suburban Legends. He was born on February 9, 1981, and grew up in Tustin, California. He received his first pair of drumsticks at the age of five and his own drum set at the age of twelve. He started playing in bands in high school and joined Avenged Sevenfold at the age of 19. He was influenced by various drummers, such as Vinnie Paul, Mike Portnoy, Dave Lombardo, Lars Ulrich, and Terry Bozzio. He was known for his technical and creative drumming style, which featured a signature technique called “the double-ride thing” or “the Double Octopus”, where he doubled up at a fast tempo between the double bass and ride cymbals. He was also a prolific songwriter and composer, who wrote and co-wrote several songs for Avenged Sevenfold, such as “A Little Piece of Heaven”, “Afterlife”, “Almost Easy”, “Unbound (The Wild Ride)”, “Buried Alive”, “Fiction”, “Brompton Cocktail”, “Welcome to the Family”, and “Save Me”. He performed on four of Avenged Sevenfold’s studio albums: Sounding the Seventh Trumpet (2001), Waking the Fallen (2003), City of Evil (2005), and Avenged Sevenfold (2007). He was working on the band’s fifth album, Nightmare, at the time of his death. He was regarded as one of the best drummers of his generation and a respected figure in the metal scene. According to Rolling Stone, he was “one of the standouts from the Orange County metal scene, combining precision, aggression and flair with syncopated groove.”
How did The Rev die?
On December 28, 2009, The Rev was found unresponsive in his Huntington Beach home, and was pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital. He was 28 years old. The police ruled out foul play and noted that his death appeared to be from natural causes. However, a coroner’s toxicology report revealed that The Rev died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs and alcohol. The report stated that he suffered from “acute polydrug intoxication due to combined effects of Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, Diazepam/Nordiazepam and ethanol.” Oxycodone and Oxymorphone are strong painkillers, Diazepam/Nordiazepam are anxiety medications, and ethanol is the intoxicant in alcohol. The report also indicated that he had cardiomegaly, an enlarged heart, which was a significant condition that may have played a role in his death. The coroner’s department conducted several tests to verify the cause of death. According to MTV, The Rev’s death was similar to that of actor Heath Ledger, who also died from acute polydrug intoxication in 2008.
How did Avenged Sevenfold and the metal community react to The Rev’s death?
The Rev’s death was a devastating shock for Avenged Sevenfold and the metal community. The band issued a statement on their website, saying: “It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we tell you of the passing of our dear friend and brother, Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan. Jimmy was not only one of the world’s best drummers, but more importantly he was our best friend and brother. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jimmy’s family and we hope that you will respect their privacy during this difficult time. Jimmy you are forever in our hearts. We love you.” The band also posted a video tribute to The Rev on their YouTube channel, featuring photos and clips of him throughout his career. The video was accompanied by the song “So Far Away”, which was written by the band’s guitarist Synyster Gates for The Rev. The song was later included on the album Nightmare, which was dedicated to The Rev’s memory. The band also invited The Rev’s favorite drummer, Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, to fill in for him on the recording and touring of Nightmare. Portnoy said that he was honored and humbled to play with Avenged Sevenfold, and that he felt like he was “channeling The Rev” every night. The band later parted ways with Portnoy and hired Arin Ilejay as their permanent drummer in 2011. Ilejay was replaced by Brooks Wackerman in 2015.
The metal community also mourned the loss of The Rev and expressed their condolences and tributes to him and his family. Many musicians and bands, such as Metallica, Slipknot, Bullet For My Valentine, My Chemical Romance, Buckcherry, Disturbed, Korn, Lamb of God, Machine Head, and others, posted messages on their websites and social media, praising The Rev’s talent and personality, and offering their support to Avenged Sevenfold. Some of them also dedicated songs or shows to The Rev during their concerts. The Rev’s funeral was held on January 6, 2010, in a private ceremony attended by his family, friends, and fellow musicians. Synyster Gates delivered a eulogy at the cemetery, where he said: “Jimmy, I love you so much. You were the best friend I ever had. You were the most talented person I ever knew. You were the most fun person I ever knew. You were the most loyal person I ever knew. You were the most beautiful person I ever knew. You were the most amazing person I ever knew. And I will miss you every day for the rest of my life.”
What is The Rev’s legacy?
The Rev’s legacy lives on through his music and his fans. His drumming and vocals can be heard on all of Avenged Sevenfold’s albums, as well as on the albums of Pinkly Smooth, Suburban Legends, and other artists he collaborated with, such as Slash, Good Charlotte, and The Confession. His songs and lyrics continue to inspire and touch millions of listeners around the world. His style and technique have influenced and inspired many drummers, both professional and amateur, who admire and emulate his skills and creativity. His personality and spirit have left a lasting impression on everyone who knew him or met him, as he was known for his humor, kindness, generosity, and passion. His fans have honored him in various ways, such as creating fan art, videos, tattoos, memorials, and tribute bands. His fans also celebrate his birthday every year, and remember him on the anniversary of his death. His fans have also raised money for various charities in his name, such as the Jimmy Fund, which supports cancer research and care. The Rev was inducted into the Hollywood RockWalk in 2018, along with the rest of Avenged Sevenfold. The band also released a live album and DVD in 2018, titled Live in the LBC & Diamonds in the Rough, which featured The Rev’s final recorded performance with the band in 2008. The band also released a song in 2019, titled “Set Me Free”, which was recorded during the sessions for the self-titled album in 2007, and featured The Rev on drums and vocals.
The Rev was a remarkable musician and a beloved friend and brother. He left behind a legacy of music, talent, and love that will never be forgotten. He was a shining star in the metal scene and a legend in the drumming world. He was a little piece of heaven for his fans and his bandmates. He was The Rev.