Avenged Sevenfold drummer dies in California

Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:03am EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The drummer with Avenged Sevenfold, a rising force in the heavy metal scene, died on Monday at his home in southern California, the group and authorities said.

James Owen Sullivan, nicknamed "The Rev," appeared to have died of natural causes, Huntington Beach police Lt. John Domingo told the Orange County Register. He was 28. The Orange County Coroner's Office is investigating, the paper said.

"It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we tell you of the passing today of Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan," the band said on its Web site. "Jimmy was not only one of the world's best drummers, but more importantly he was our best friend and brother."

Avenged Sevenfold, which Sullivan co-founded in 1999, hit No. 4 on the U.S. pop album chart in 2007 with its most recent album, a self-titled release that went on to ship more than 500,000 copies, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Sullivan contributed "A Little Piece of Heaven," a tongue-in-cheek, eight-minute paean to necrophilia and mass murder. The band shot an appropriately gruesome videoclip.

In recent years, Avenged Sevenfold tried to live down its reputation for debauchery. Sullivan, in particular, had raised eyebrows after a 2006 cover story in metal magazine Revolver described his penchant for cocaine and other drugs.

Inspired by such bands as Iron Maiden, Metallica and Guns N' Roses, the quintet built its musical reputation through heavy touring. It played Ozzy Osbourne's annual Ozzfest tour in 2006, and co-headlined a national trek with Buckcherry in 2008 and 2009. It recently announced plans to record a third studio album for Warner Music Group Corp.

(Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Alan Elsner)

<p>The band Avenged Sevenfold performs during the taping of the Fuse/Fangoria Chainsaw Awards at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, California October 15, 2006. REUTERS/ Phil McCarten</p>