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In The Pipeline:

Popular metal band bred in HB

May 28, 2009|By CHRIS EPTING

On the back window of a vehicle parked on a well-kept street in a neighborhood near Central Library, there is a sticker for the band Avenged Sevenfold. While you’d be right in assuming that the vehicle belongs to a big fan, which fan might surprise you. It’s not one of the millions of high school or college kids who have helped make this innovative, intense metal band one of the hottest in the world right now. Rather, the vehicle belongs to Joe Sullivan, the drummer’s dad.

Joe and Barbara Sullivan, who have lived in the same comfortable Huntington Beach house since 1977, may not look like rock ’n’ roll parents. Spend some time with them, though, and you’ll realize how deceptive looks can be. Since their son Jim (a.k.a. “The Rev”) hit it big (literally and figuratively) with Avenged Sevenfold, they’ve become industry experts.

They can just as easily discuss the importance of merchandise sales as they can the financial implications of headlining a gig versus being an opening act — and most importantly, they love the music. Raising their son, 28, in this house along with sisters Kelly and Katie, they knew early on that Jim’s life might involve percussion.

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“He was desperately into music,” Joe says, laughing. “In the bathtub when he was tiny he’d be banging away on things. Then, pots and pans — anything and everything.”

Barbara adds, “So finally we got him a little drum kit from Sears. And we knew — we just knew this was serious.”

Neither of his folks are musicians, so Jim’s mom went to a music store that used to be at Warner Avenue and Springdale Street when he was about 6. There, they met Jeanette Raitt, a teacher who became very influential and helped spark his passion for complex percussive challenges. Soon, the young drummer discovered Metallica, then Pantera.

“Faster and faster stuff,” Joe says. “And his teacher had him transcribing all the drum work so he could really understand what was happening.”

When Jim was 10, his folks got him a more serious drum kit — an old Ludwig set with lots of cymbals.

“When his teacher found out he’d been figuring out the parts on a little toy set, she was amazed,” says Barbara.

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