Deaths elsewhere

December 30, 2009

JAMES 'THE REV' SULLIVAN, 28

Drummer for band Avenged Sevenfold

James "The Rev" Sullivan, drummer for the Orange County heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold, whose apocalyptic songs full of biblical imagery resurrected for a new generation the sonic template of '80s hard rock laid down by acts such as Guns N' Roses and Metallica, died Monday at his home in Huntington Beach. He was 28.

A statement released by the Orange County coroner's office said Sullivan was found unresponsive inside his home, and that no other information is available because an investigation is under way.

A spokesman for the Huntington Beach Police Department said there were no signs of foul play and that Sullivan was pronounced dead at the scene.

"It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we tell you of the passing today of Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan," the other four band members said in a statement posted Tuesday on the group's Web site. "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."

James O. Sullivan was born Feb. 9, 1981, and befriended the future members of the group, whose name often is short-handed as A7X, while they were in high school.

Early this decade, the quintet built a strong local following playing in clubs and releasing recordings.

"The band seamlessly melds the epic mysticism and melody of vintage metal with startling, full-throttle punk grooves and shrieks," Lina Lecaro wrote for the Los Angeles Times in covering one of the band's local shows in 2004.

Expanding on that initial popularity, A7X established a national audience with the 2005 release of its major-label debut for Warner Bros. Records, "City of Evil," which has sold just shy of 1 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The band made multiple appearances on the Vans Warped Tour juggernaut of indie rock and found unlikely -- for a metal band -- success with such alternative and modern-rock outlets as MTV's "Total Request Live" show and local radio powerhouse KROQ-FM with the breakthrough hit "Bat Country." The group has sold nearly 2.5 million albums since its debut.

Sullivan was in sync with his fellow band members by insisting that they weren't interested in being pigeon-holed in any single musical genre, one reason the group shared a tour last year with Buckcherry, a band that has hewed closer to the rock mainstream.

"There's a lot of straight-up rock mixed with a lot of metal fans, so it's an interesting mix," Sullivan told a reporter in Michigan last year.

Information about Sullivan's survivors was not immediately available.

- Los Angeles Times

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