December 28th, 2009, the date that every Avenged Sevenfold fan would like to forget. On this day, drummer Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan was found dead in his house in Huntington Beach, California. Now, 12 years later, fans still mourn his passing.6
What we know about that day is that Jimmy The Rev always said he was going to make it to 28 years and be a rockstar. Well, guess what? He was a rockstar and died at 28. Three days after leaving this earth, he gave his fans and fellow bandmates one last piece of his heart. They found a song (both lyrics and recorded demo), originally titled “Death”, considered by many of their fans as a goodbye letter from Jimmy. To Kerrang! magazine, Shadows, the frontman, admitted that the words written by Rev were prophetic:
“He wrote all these lyrics about finding the way when he’s not there any more. It was as though he knew he wasn’t going to be with us much longer.”Matt Sanders
As a tribute to him, the band decided to release his demo with his voice. He also recorded himself playing the drums and the piano, and it’s the first song of Avenged Sevenfold that has no guitar whatsoever. After discussing the release, the band thought it would be better to change the name from ‘Death’ to ‘Fiction’, since he had it tattooed on his chest. They answered his final words with the heartbreaking song, So Far Away, which came out with a video showing their friendship.
Avenged Sevenfold, originally formed in 1999 by Jimmy, Matt Sanders (Shadows) and former bass player Matt Wendt, posted in 2009 a message expressing their grief over the death of The Rev and a note from Sullivan’s family thanking his fans for their support. They also admitted that they considered disbanding at that point. Luckily for us, they didn’t! On february 17, 2010, two months after The Rev’s passing, they decided to go back to the studio to record their fifth album, ‘Nightmare’. They invited Jimmy’s favorite drummer and idol, Mike Portnoy (former Dream Theater drummer) to help with the drum session.
The album actually had a very positive review from both critics and fans, and it’s considered until today, A7X’s masterpiece. After the release, they started touring with the newest addition to the band, drummer Arin Ilejay. Nowadays, they are on a hiatus, but are still focusing on their eighth album.
A Little Piece of Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan
Jimmy was not only Avenged’s drummer but also an outstanding composer, responsible for so many great songs. Fun fact: he came up with the idea of one of the most beloved songs from A7X, named A Little Piece of Heaven, and presented it to the band that instantly refused to record. Then, it was up to Matt Shadows to convince the rest of the band to do it just for fun and they had struck gold. The song can be found on their fourth album from 2007, which was self-titled.
Truth is, Jimmy is irreplaceable! He was one of a kind, a man capable of great things and able to accomplish what only a few others had accomplished. He was, and still is, after so many years, the very foundation of Avenged Sevenfold. Everything the band is doing now, they’re doing for him and because of him. There’s no other like Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan and he knew that. Up to his very last moment, he knew he was unique. And the grief that every fan feels over the years, will linger foREVer.
To Jimmy’s family and Avenged’s band members: our deepest sympathies! May you guys find peace even in the darkest moments. And know that, no matter what, Jimmy will never be forgotten. His cheerful soul is still alive in every fan’s heart, for as long as they exist.
And Jimmy, take care of your family, friends and fans from your afterlife.