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In The Pipeline:

How do you write about such a man?

January 14, 2010|By Chris Epting

I’m sitting here trying to make sense and write this column about what I witnessed last week — the two services I attended for Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan, drummer (who wrote and sang) for the Huntington Beach-based band Avenged Sevenfold.

If you saw the column I wrote a few months back about Joe and Barbara Sullivan, Jimmy’s parents, you’ll remember that this tight-knit family knew early that the little boy banging on toys in the tub was destined for something percussive — but as the member of a spectacularly popular band?

“The Rev” tragically passed away at 28 the week before last, and while nobody is quite sure what happened, it really doesn’t matter — what’s important is that a family here misses their son (and brother).

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Joe and Barbara Sullivan want to address the fans soon, and they will. For now, not as a columnist but as a friend, I asked their permission to convey the power of what I witnessed at the services, and they said it was OK. But as I sit here, it’s hard to know where to begin.

This lovely family (including Jimmy’s sisters Kelly and Katie) was visible at the services not just gracefully tending to the assembled flock, but on the several scrapbook photo boards at the church featuring hundreds of family photos. Vacations, camping trips, birthdays, ball games, Jimmy playing one of his first sets of drums — they all grew up right before our eyes.

So how do you begin to write of the vastness of this loss the family is feeling? I can tell you that as friends and family paid tribute to The Rev at the rosary service the night before the funeral, it was powerful, heartfelt and real — just like The Rev himself. The packed church was treated to stories from pals, relatives and his first drum teacher, who spoke of the young boy who understood and executed polyrhythmic theory in a matter of weeks.

Grade-school buddies recalled the happy-go-lucky athlete who became a real-life rock star but never forget where he came from. The four remaining members of Avenged Sevenfold entered together and then rose together to address the crowd. Tearfully, these young men, wives and girlfriends by their side, shared their love of their bandmate.

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