Avenged Sevenfold Drummer Died of Accidental Overdose

Coroner rules the Rev's December '09 death resulted from lethal combination of prescription drugs and alcohol

June 9, 2010 1:39 PM ET

Avenged Sevenfold drummer Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan died on December 28, 2009 from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs and alcohol, Orange County Deputy Coroner Mitchell Sigal told Rolling Stone. Toxicology reports indicate that Sullivan suffered "acute polydrug intoxication due to combined effects of Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, Diazepam/Nordiazepam and ethanol."

Oxycodone is painkiller that substitutes for Codeine, Oxymorphone is a painkiller similar to Morphine, Diazepam/Nordiazepam are anxiety medications and ethanol is the intoxicant in alcohol. Actor Heath Ledger similarly died from acute polydrug intoxication on January 22, 2008. Sigal added that Sullivan also had cardiomegaly (an enlarged heart), which was marked in the coroner's report as a "significant condition" that may have played a role in the drummer's death. The Coroner's Department conducted "five or six" different tests to verify the cause of death, Sigal added.

"To all of us who loved Jimmy, the only thing relevant about December 28 is that is the night we lost, too soon, a son, brother, friend and one of the most talented artists in the world,” the band's manager Larry Jacobson tells Rolling Stone. "Every day, his parents and sisters, and his brothers in Avenged Sevenfold smile at the many memories they have of Jimmy and his fans around the world revel in the musical legacy he left them."

Sullivan, 28, died at his home in Huntington Beach, California. He was buried in a private ceremony on January 6th. Avenged Sevenfold guitarist Synyster Gates delivered a eulogy at the cemetery in front of the band, Sullivan's wife and family, ex-Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul, Bullet For My Valentine frontman Matt Tuck and members of Buckcherry and My Chemical Romance.

The drummer was one of the standouts from the Orange County metal scene, combining precision, aggression and flair with syncopated groove. His playing evolved seamlessly with the band's development from a brutal metalcore band influenced by Converge and Slayer to a brash hard rock outfit more redolent of Guns n' Roses and Metallica. Sullivan performed on four of Avenged Sevenfold's studio albums — 2001's Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, 2003's Waking the Fallen, 2005's breakthrough City of Evil and 2007's Avenged Sevenfold — and was co-writing the band upcoming album at the time of his death. That record, Nightmare, is scheduled for release on July 27th.

"As a drummer, Jimmy was just better than most people," says Atreyu drummer Brandon Saller, whose band also emerged from the Orange County scene. "He had a true talent and he went about things in such a skewed way technically that he didn't sound like anybody else. He was one of those drummers where you could put on a record and you could tell it was Jimmy drumming the second you heard it."

In addition to being a skilled and flashy player, Sullivan was a friendly and ebullient individual, whose enthusiasm won people over. "He always wanted everyone to have a good time," Saller says. "He didn't live in a world where you could be sad or bummed out. He didn't let that part of life exist for him. He always brought out the good in everything and was always laughing and joking."

"Whenever he'd see people from the past, like Bleeding Through or Eighteen Visions, his face would light up," adds Bleeding Through frontman Brandan Schieppati, whose band also formed in Orange County. "He'd make you feel like you were still an important part of his life, even though he had gone and done greater things with his career. He really had a big heart."

After grieving for their bandmate, Avenged Sevenfold hired one of Sullivan's favorite drummers, Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy, to play on Nightmare. Portnoy will tour with Avenged Sevenfold on the Rockstar Energy Uproar festival, which launches August 17th in Minneapolis, Minnesota and runs through October 4th in Madison, Wisconsin.

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