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In The Pipeline:

A farewell from the Rev

Avenged Sevenfold drummer leaves demos — and a poignant message — after his untimely death.

February 12, 2010|By Chris Epting

“I hope you’ll find your own way when I’m not with you.”

The lyrics jump out to the listener. The sparse, haunting, discordant ballad, consisting only of Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan on piano, drums and vocal, fills the room — the same room where, last May, my teenage son and I visited with Joe and Barbara Sullivan, parents of the drummer from Avenged Sevenfold. We were there for a column I was writing about how proud the parents were of their son’s success.

The song continues, and it is stunning; introspective, moody — no formal lyrics for the most part. Instead, what appears to be a “guide vocal,” random words serving as placeholders for what will be written later. But the line appears again, slightly revised, “I think you’ll find your own way when I’m not with you.”

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Here in the same room where, in January, I watched the band members comfort the family after Jimmy’s funeral.

The same room where a little boy named Jimmy Sullivan grew into a big drummer.

The song ends with, “I know you’ll find your own way when I’m not with you.”

These are some of the last words recorded by the Rev, just weeks before his death.

Barbara Sullivan wipes tears away from her eyes. We listen to some more music that Jimmy had been working on up until the end, in preparation for the new Avenged Sevenfold album. When the songs end, Joe Sullivan breaks the silence.

“He was really creating beautiful music, and I think the fans would be comforted by that,” he says.

The Sullivans are aware of the impact their late son had, not just on people here in Huntington Beach, but around the world. That’s why we’re here — because they want to reach out to the fans, to comfort and clarify, to give them an update. (My son is with me this evening as well, because he not only loves the band, he loves the Sullivans, too.)

“I was planning on waiting until the coroner’s results were in to talk about Jimmy — but realized that whatever the report has to say just really doesn’t matter,” Barbara tells me. “Now that a little time has passed, I am able to read some of the fan postings, and want to share a few details that might bring them comfort. The last few months of Jimmy’s life were good ones.

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