The Rev was a highly talented and influential drummer, best known for his work with the American heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold.
His powerful drumming style, creative contributions to the band, and larger-than-life personality made him a beloved figure in the music industry.
However, his untimely death in December 2009 left fans and the music world in shock and mourning.
In this article, we will explore the circumstances surrounding the tragic passing of “The Rev” and his enduring legacy.
Who is The Rev?
The Rev was an American musician best known as a founding member of the heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold, where he played drums, and piano, and provided backing and co-lead vocals.
He was born as James Owen Sullivan on February 9, 1981.
From 1998 to 1999, he was also the main vocalist/pianist in the avant-garde metal band Pinkly Smooth and the drummer for the ska-punk band Suburban Legends.
How Did The Rev Die?
The Rev was discovered unresponsive at his Huntington Beach home on December 28, 2009, and was confirmed deceased upon arrival at the hospital.
Police ruled out foul play and said his death looked to be the result of natural causes.
An autopsy performed on December 30, 2009, was inconclusive, but toxicology testing revealed in June that he died from an overdose of oxycodone (Percocet), oxymorphone (an oxycodone metabolite), diazepam (Valium), nordiazepam (an oxycodone metabolite), and alcohol.
The coroner identified an enlarged heart as a “significant condition” that could have contributed to Sullivan's death.
Sullivan's funeral was held privately on January 6, 2010.
Avenged Sevenfold dedicated their fifth studio album Nightmare to him shortly after his death, as well as numerous songs, including “So Far Away,” written by bandmate (and childhood buddy) Synyster Gates, and “Fiction,” penned by the Rev three days before his death.
How Did The Rev Rise to Fame?
He began taking drum lessons at the age of ten and quickly showed to be a natural.
He was one of the top performers in his drum teacher's college percussion ensemble within a year.
He enjoyed all sorts of technical and difficult drumming, including jazz and prog rock, but his favorite style was metal, and he found the percussive power of Slayer, Metallica, and Pantera in his early teens.
Simultaneously, he admired the showy playing of more mainstream acts like Guns N' Roses and Motley Crue and incorporated it all into his varied performances.
After graduating from high school in 1999, Sullivan went on to establish Avenged Sevenfold with vocalist M. Shadows, guitarists Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance, and bassist Matt Wendt.
Despite having difficulty finding gigs and being accepted in the insular Orange County Scene at first, Avenged Sevenfold wasted no time in developing and recording original music.
They released their first EP, Warmness on the Soul, in 2001, followed by their full-length debut, Sounding The Seventh Trumpet, a vital album for the developing California metalcore genre a year later.
Slowly, the band's fanbase grew, and by the time they toured with 2003's Waking the Fallen, Avenged Sevenfold had built a loyal following, which they expanded after performing on that year's Warped Tour.