Dec. 28 marks the one-year anniversary of the death of Jimmy Sullivan, aka "The Rev," drummer for the Huntington Beach-based band Avenged Sevenfold. According to reports, he died from an accidental overdose of strong prescription painkillers, and so, even though this may be considered a "preventable" death, loss is still loss.
I know how tough this is for the Sullivan family. Because I covered the event last year, with subsequent follow-ups, it put me in touch with many members of the Avenged Sevenfold "family," the passionate, loyal fan base that stretches across the globe. In the spirit of remembrance, and to illustrate the far-reaching effects of Jimmy's death, I thought this week's column could function as an "open letter" of sorts, a chance for fans to express directly to the Sullivans what they are feeling.
Kortney Ehrhart, who runs http://www.deathbatnews.com, coordinated the global effort after I reached out for help. Thank you, Kortney. Hundreds upon hundreds of missives arrived, and all will be delivered to the family. Joe, Barbara, Katie and Kelly, here is a small sampling, testaments to the thunderous musical legacy that your Jimmy left the world.
To the fans who submitted, you know I'd love to include all of them here, but my space is limited. But I appreciated them all, and because I feel we've formed a bond this past year, I know you'll understand.
To everyone reading this today, during this sacred week, may we pause to remember all of the loved ones we miss. Those who brought us joy, hope and promise. Those who soothed our souls. Those who made our lives more musical.
Here are some remembrances that document just how far the influence of a drummer from Huntington Beach spanned:
"My very own forlorn and somber nightmare was shockingly manifested on Dec. 28, a day considered by many to be unluckiest day of the year. To the Sullivans, Leana and the rest of the A7X family: Jimmy will never be forgotten by those that saw him for the talented, loving and carefree genius that he was – my heart aches for you each and every day." – Joelle, Bella Vista, Alaska
"I will never forget Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan. Although I never met him, he showed me how to truly live life to the fullest." – Hunter, Yorba Linda
"Jimmy Sullivan touched my life in such an amazing way, and I never even got to meet him. I didn't have to." – Ashley, Albuquerque, N.M.
"A musical genius, but more importantly a mover of souls. Thank you for allowing us a glimpse into your beautiful heart and foREVer changing our lives." – Sherri Miller, Heavener, Okla.
"I feel terribly sorry that you've lost Jimmy one year ago. We will pray for you today, from all over the world." – Lean, Holland
"From the opening riffs of 'To End The Rapture,' to the last notes of 'Save Me,' and everything in between, Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan has been a songwriting hero and inspiration to me." – Tom, Atlantic City, N.J.
"Jimmy was a perfect chapter in our lives. Stay strong Sullivans." – Hanna Salmela, Finland
"Sullivans, I wish you could know just how much your son and his band mean to me. It was an honour and a dream come true to be there at Sonisphere 2009 to witness The Rev play his last show." – Hayley, Bexhill-On-Sea, England.
"Every day without Jimmy is a challenge, but even now he helps us through the tough times. He'll never be forgotten by those whose hearts he touched." – Renee, Sydney
"Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for giving us one of the greatest drummers of this generation. He will be foREVer missed." – Paulina Castillo, Los Angeles
"Jimmy and his music still bring a smile to the faces of those who watch and hear him play. A true legend and funny bloke!" – Lew, Wolverhampton, England
"A huge thanks to the Sullivan family who let Jimmy share his amazing gift with the world. His legacy will never be forgotten." – Charlhynn D., Spokane, Wash.
"A year ago today, the world lost a special man, and from that day forward, Jimmy's fans made a promise to keep his legacy alive foREVer. We've kept true to that promise, and we only hope that our efforts have shined bright enough to lead you, his family, through the toughest of times. We love you." – Arielle, Westminster
"The death doesn't mean the end. How long we will remember about Jimmy, he will live forever. FoREVer in our hearts." – Natka, Poland
"Jimmy was a wonderful human being. All my love and prayers go to you on this day." – Sanne, Amsterdam, Netherlands
"Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan: foREVer in our hearts." – Lev, Israel
"A year already since Jimmy passed away and so much happened since then. You guys stayed strong and I am sure that you made him very proud! Love & Support!" – Emmanuelle, Montreal
"His memory will be honored every single day. Your son was an amazing human being and one of the greatest drummers in this world. Jimmy was and will be forever in our hearts, we will NEVER forget him." – Anna F., Paris
"Nothing can describe what you've been dealing with the past year. We, us, the fans are by your side all the way — Jimmy will be grieved, missed, but never forgotten, and you like to believe that when your journey is done and your path complete, Jimmy will be there waiting for you, We love you. RIP James Owen Sullivan. Love." – Felicia Lefvedahl, Stockholm
A memorial, put on by the fans, will be from 4 to 10 p.m. Dec. 28 in Huntington Central Park.
CHRIS EPTING is the author of 18 books, including the new "Hello, It's Me: Dispatches from a Pop Culture Junkie." You can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.