The Rev

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For the style used when addressing clergy, see The Reverend.
The Rev
The Rev of Avenged Sevenfold.JPG
Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan in 2007
Background information
Birth name James Owen Sullivan
Also known as The Rev, Rathead, The Reverend Tholomew Plague, Fiction, The Knife Master
Born (1981-02-09)February 9, 1981
Huntington Beach, California, U.S.
Died December 28, 2009(2009-12-28) (aged 28)
Huntington Beach, California, U.S.
Genres Heavy metal, hard rock, metalcore, progressive metal, avant-garde metal, ska punk
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, songwriter, multi instrumentalist
Instruments Drums, vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards, bass
Years active 1998 (1998)-2009 (2009)
Labels Warner Bros., Good Life, Hopeless, Bucktan
Associated acts Avenged Sevenfold, Pinkly Smooth, Brian Haner, Suburban Legends,

James Owen Sullivan (February 9, 1981 – December 28, 2009),[1] professionally known by his stage name The Rev (shortened version of The Reverend Tholomew Plague), was an American musician, composer and songwriter, best known as the drummer, composer, songwriter, backing (occasional co-leading) vocalist and founding member for the American heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold. The Rev was widely regarded and critically acclaimed for his work on Avenged Sevenfold albums, and contributed entire songs composed by himself, such as "Chapter Four", "Afterlife", "A Little Piece of Heaven", and "Almost Easy". He was also the lead vocalist/pianist in Pinkly Smooth, a side project where he was known by the name Rathead, with fellow Avenged Sevenfold member, guitarist Synyster Gates (Brian Elwin Haner Jr.), and he was the drummer for Suburban Legends from 1998 to 1999.


Sullivan was born in Huntington Beach, California on February 10, 1981.[2] He received his first pair of drum sticks at the age of five and own drum set at the age of ten.[3] In high school, he started playing in bands. Before leaving to join Avenged Sevenfold as one of the band's founding members, Sullivan was the drummer for the third wave ska band Suburban Legends. At the age of twenty he recorded his first album with Avenged Sevenfold titled Sounding the Seventh Trumpet. His early influences included Frank Zappa and King Crimson. The Rev said in a Modern Drummer Magazine interview that "I was raised on that stuff as much as rock and metal."[3]

Later in life he was influenced by drummers Vinnie Paul, Mike Portnoy (who would later be his fill-in with Avenged Sevenfold), Dave Lombardo, Joey Jordison, Lars Ulrich and Terry Bozzio.[4] “It’s funny,” says the drummer, “of all my influences, Tommy Lee is a visual influence. I never thought I’d have one of those.”[5]Sullivan had a signature ability called "the double-ride thing" or "The Double Octopus," as the Rev called it, "just for lack of a better definition."[6] "The double-ride thing" is a technique that can be heard on tracks such as "Almost Easy," "Critical Acclaim," "Crossroads," and "Dancing Dead" in which Sullivan doubles up at a fast tempo between the double bass and ride cymbals. While playing, Sullivan often twirls his stick to put on a show.

The Rev was a drummer, composer, songwriter, vocalist and pianist for Avenged Sevenfold. His vocals are featured in several Avenged Sevenfold songs, including "Strength of the World," "Afterlife," "A Little Piece of Heaven," "Almost Easy," "Scream," "Critical Acclaim," "Lost," "Brompton Cocktail," "Crossroads," "Flash of the Blade (Iron Maiden cover)," and "Fiction." His music composing and songwriting are done in several songs for Avenged Sevenfold like "A Little Piece of Heaven," "Afterlife," "Almost Easy," "Bat Country," "Beast and the Harlot," "MIA," "Unbound (The Wild Ride)," "Blinded in Chains," "Buried Alive," "Fiction," "Brompton Cocktail," and more. Avenged Sevenfold released a demo version of "Nightmare," featuring The Rev on an electronic drumset and some vocals.

At the second annual Revolver Golden God Awards, The Rev won the award for Best Drummer. His family members, and Avenged Sevenfold, received the posthumous honor on his behalf.[7]

In an Ultimate Guitar online reader's poll of the "Top Ten Greatest Drummers of All Time," The Rev appeared at #8, placing higher than Bill Ward of Black Sabbath, and lower than Keith Moon of The Who.

Pinkly Smooth[edit]

Pinkly Smooth was an American heavy metal/avant-garde metal band. The band was formed in the summer of 2001 in Huntington Beach, California, as a side project for Avenged Sevenfold's drummer/composer/songwriter Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan, and originally featured The Rev (under the name "Rathead") on vocals, along with fellow Avenged Sevenfold member Synyster Gates on guitar and former Ballistico band members Buck Silverspur (under the name "El Diablo") on bass and Derek Eglit (under the name "Super Loop") on drums. They released only one album, Unfortunate Snort, which featured former Avenged Sevenfold bassist Justin Meacham (under his stage name "Justin Sane") as a keyboard player.


  • Rathead (The Rev) – vocals, piano, drums (2001–2002)
  • Synyster Gates – guitar (2001–2002)
  • El Diablo (Buck Silverspur) – bass (2001–2002)
  • Super Loop (Derek Eglit) – drums (2001–2002)
  • Justin Sane (Justin Meacham) – keyboards (2001)


On December 28, 2009, The Rev was found unresponsive in his Huntington Beach home, and was later pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital.[8] Police ruled out foul play and noted his death appeared to be from natural causes. An autopsy performed on December 30, 2009 was inconclusive, but toxicology results revealed to the public in June that he died from an overdose of oxycodone[1] (Percocet), oxymorphone (a metabolite of oxycodone), diazepam (Valium), nordiazepam (a metabolite of diazepam), and alcohol. The coroner noted cardiomegaly (enlarged heart) as a "significant condition" that may have played a role in Sullivan's death.[9]

On January 6, 2010, a private funeral was held for Sullivan, and then he was buried in The Good Shepherd Cemetery, in Huntington Beach, California.[10] Shortly after his death, Avenged Sevenfold dedicated their fifth studio album Nightmare (released that same year) to him, as well as several songs, including "So Far Away", which had been written by band mate (and childhood friend) Synyster Gates; and "Fiction", which The Rev had written three days before his death.[11][12] M. Shadows and Synyster Gates have stated in an interview to Hard Drive Radio:

"[...]The eeriest thing about it is there is a song on the album called "Fiction" (a nickname The Rev gave himself) which started out with the title "Death." And it was the last song The Rev wrote for the album, and when he handed it in, he said, 'That's it, that's the last song for this record.' And then, three days later, he died."[11]


His triple bass drum kit from the 2008 Taste of Chaos tour was donated for display at a Hard Rock Cafe in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.[13]


With Suburban Legends[edit]

With Pinkly Smooth[edit]

  • Unfortunate Snort (2001)

With Brian Haner[edit]

  • Cougar Bait (2008)

With Avenged Sevenfold[edit]


  1. ^ a b "MTV Newsroom". 2009-12-29. Retrieved 2011-10-28. 
  2. ^ "Huntington Beach Independent". 2010-02-17. Retrieved 2011-10-28. 
  3. ^ a b "''Modern Drummer Magazine Interview Oct. 2006''". Retrieved 2011-10-28. 
  4. ^ "January 5, 2010". Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  5. ^ "James "The Rev" Sullivan | Modern Drummer Magazine". Retrieved 2016-12-23. 
  6. ^ "DRUM! Magazine Interview Nov. 2007". Retrieved 2011-10-28. 
  7. ^ "Revolver Golden Gods Awards 2010: The Winners | Latest News". Metal Injection. 2010-04-09. Retrieved 2011-10-28. 
  8. ^ Lewis, Randy. "James 'The Rev' Sullivan dies at 28; drummer for heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold". Retrieved 2017-01-06. 
  9. ^ Jon Wiederhorn. "Avenged Sevenfold Drummer Died of Accidental Overdose". Rolling Stone. 
  10. ^ "The Good Shepherd Cemetery". Find A Grave. Retrieved 2011-10-28. 
  11. ^ a b "Has The New Avenged Sevenfold Album Been Given A Title?". Metal Hammer. May 14, 2010. Retrieved May 14, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold: The Rev's Passing Steered Album's Lyrical Direction | Interviews @". Archived from the original on September 6, 2010. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  13. ^ "Memorabilia". Hard Rock Cafe. Retrieved July 14, 2013.