Former DREAM THEATER drummer Mike Portnoy, who is currently on the road as the touring drummer for AVENGED SEVENFOLD, met the family of late AVENGED SEVENFOLD drummer James "The Rev" Sullivan for the first time when the band played at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Irvine, California on September 17, 2010. Beliefnet's Chris Epting, who was present during the meeting, wrote about the encounter, "Mike and [The Rev's father] Joe Sullivan embraced. Then Mike hugged [The Rev's mother] Barbara, and Jimmy's two sisters. There were tears. And stories. And lots of emotion. Mike told the family how much he feels Jimmy's legacy in the air each night they play. And what it means to him to be playing drums in the band. Joe expressed to Mike how much 'little' Jimmy adored Portnoy growing up. Some pictures were taken. More hugs. More tears. More sharing of stories."This was a very special moment in the middle of all the craziness, and a privilege to witness. "It was a drummer honoring a family honoring a drummer — a cycle of love and appreciation — a moment in which two parents and two sisters were able to embrace the man that will now be linked with their son, in spirit and in music — foREVer." Read more of Epting's account at this location. Sullivan died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs and alcohol, according to Orange County Deputy Coroner Mitchell Sigal. Sigal told RollingStone.com that toxicology reports indicated that Sullivan suffered "acute polydrug intoxication due to combined effects of Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, Diazepam/Nordiazepam and ethanol," leading to his death on December 28, 2009. Sigal added that Sullivan also suffered from cardiomegaly, or an enlarged heart, which 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, according to Sigal. Sullivan's death was similar to that of Oscar-winning actor Heath Ledger, who also died from polydrug intoxication in January 2008. AVENGED SEVENFOLD manager Larry Jacobson told RollingStone.com, "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. 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." AVENGED SEVENFOLD released its fifth studio album, "Nightmare", on July 27. Sullivan wrote much of the music for the record. Portnoy played on the record and will tour with AVENGED SEVENFOLD through the rest of 2010. Sullivan was buried on January 6. AVENGED guitarist Synyster Gates delivered the eulogy, while the funeral was attended by Sullivan's wife and family, ex-PANTERA drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE frontman Matt Tuck and members of BUCKCHERRY and MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE. Oxycodone is a painkiller that substitutes for codeine, while Oxymorphone is a painkiller similar to morphine. Diazepam/Nordiazepam are anxiety medications and ethanol is the intoxicant found in alcohol.