I had the pleasure to see various Avenged Sevenfold live shows and I have been very lucky, because I had many occasions to meet the band, ask them for autographs and pictures and talk with them.
The first time it was in London; we waited for them in front of their tour bus and we saw them both before and after the show. In Bologna I had the chance to meet them on different occasions and to get autographs and pictures from every member of the band.
A special mention goes to the moments lived with that phenomenal drummer that left us too early: I will never forget his greet in London before getting on the bus, the moment when he autographed my copy of “Avenged Sevenfold” and the picture taken with him. Every single moment is jealously kept in my memory.
The first time I listened to Jimmy’s music was in 2009. I was 9 years old and my sister, a great fan of the band, made me listen to “A Little Piece of Heaven”, because we were about to buy my first drum kit and she wanted to see if I was able to follow the beat. I immediately fell in love with that song, I did not ask anything in particular, but I had understood that there was something special. One thing leads to another and my sister told me the story of the band, adding many details, and I totally fell in love with that weird and talented drummer, who became almost an older brother for me (I say almost because I still didn’t know him well, but the feeling is still the same). I started to read up on Avenged Sevenfold watching various videos and listening carefully to their songs and I completely got into the style of Jimmy, both behind the drums and in real life; I cannot say exactly what caught my interest and why. Jimmy was my first and truly unique inspiration, he is my reference point and my greatest certainty.
He was the best drummer and songwriter in the world, whatever thing he did, he did it at his best and better than anyone, above all in terms of composition. I think he was (and I am not exaggerating) one of the most brilliant minds that the world of music had the honour to know. And as a person, well, today he is still like a big brother for me.
Summer 2006. As a great fan of Metallica, I decided to go to Imola with my metalhead party to attend their show. At that time there weren’t social networks and youtube was not so popular, so I had never heard of Avenged Sevenfold. They opened the show and it was love at first sight. The thing that surprised me most was Jimmy’s way of playing and moving behind the drums. I remember that he “pretended” to hit a cymbal and then he hit the next one and this really thrilled me.
I am a guitarist, so I should have had eyes and hears only for Syn, but his way of playing really enchanted me.
Obviously when I returned home from the festival I became a big fan of the band and I still am.
My first Avenged Sevenfold show was at Rainbow, in Milan, and it was the best concert that I’ve ever seen.
It was just Them with Jimmy: no special effects, a little stage, a little venue and few people; those were my Avenged Sevenfold. I have never been lucky enough to meet Jimmy or the other members of the band, but having them on the stage just two meters away from me was enough and I will never forget that night.
Jimmy was enthusiastic as well as the rest of the band, seeing him was an incredible feeling, and I remember that they played some songs that gave me goose bumps.
Jimmy was the brilliant mind of Avenged Sevenfold. If the band achieved worldwide success, it also thanks to him.
He was pure energy on stage, but also a smile and a hug for his fans. He made his fans feel loved and he always granted wonderful live shows. Jimmy was pure creativity in writing and high skill in playing. When he left us I had the impression that the band moved on passively, that something was broken. The thing didn’t surprise me. Jimmy was the crazy talent of Avenged Sevenfold, but at the same time he was professional and spontaneous. He loved spending time with people but he didn’t wanted to be adored. He just loved people. He wasn’t looking for fame or exposure, he just liked to stay with his fans and on the stage. It didn’t matter if he was tired or sweaty; he always returned the love he received and he deserves to be remembered for this. We owe him a lot. Avenged Sevenfold owe him a lot.
My first Avenged Sevenfold live show was in 2008, on occasion of Gods Of Metal. I had been following the band for a couple of years and I was literally obsessed with them (like a good teenager). I had bought the tickets many months before and even if it was a festival, I went there only for them, I didn’t care about the other bands. The person that had to come with me decided to back down a few months before, so I went to the show with my father. He didn’t know the band, but he alway attended rock shows (and he still does!). We arrived in the afternoon and the heat wave was huge. We managed to reach the side of the stage where Synyster played (he was my favourite member!) and we waited under the sun for the beginning of the show. We were pretty close to the barriers, but I had understood that a lot of people was there for Iron Maiden and not for them.
Jimmy was the first one to hit the stage. He sat behind cymbals and snare putting his drum sticks up. I was really excited, I really appreciated Jimmy and he looked very solemn while he was getting ready to play. I remember that when I saw him I cried a little bit, he was the very first member of the band that I saw in person. They were real, human and a few meters away from me. He started hitting his drums, he was a real fury, a force of nature. The others came out from the backstage and the real show began. Those who have followed the band for years know how that show ended: Iron Maiden fans behaved in an ignoble way and Matt and Synyster were so mad that they left the stage angry. It was very agonising for me, I was there for them, but the Iron Maiden fans ruined my day. In spite of this, I have a beautiful memory of the band, I remember how Zacky and Johnny signed us some albums, on the side of the stage, and how Jimmy greeted us from the tourbus. My memories are blurred because of the anger, but I remember the goose bumps I felt when I saw Jimmy on the stage and when he let everything begin.
Sofia e Stefano:
Last time we say Jimmy was in August 2009, in Dublin. Few months before the fatal date.
On the stage he gave all of himself, it was a wonderful show. The day after the concert, we met all the band members at the airport: Jimmy seemed the shyest and the most reserved of all. He was very willing to take pictures and have a word, but he also looked shy. He definitely was different from the others, he had a very special gaze.
There, we took a last picture all together. His memory will always live with us.
The figure of Jimmy always fascinated me. The first thing that I noticed were the handcuffs he tattooed on his neck. Brilliant. He was a multi-instrumentalist and an absolute genius of music and this is not rhetoric, this is not banality… this is a matter of fact.
One of the things that struck me most when I saw him live was that, after the intro that announced the beginning of the show, he was the first one to hit the stage, he greeted the audience walking towards his drums, he put the headset on and started playing at his best.
That was the most particular moment of watching him play live.
The first time I saw him was at Gods Of Metal in Bologna in 2008, when he came out from the backstage and sat behind his drums. I think I have been very lucky to see him during his last live show at Sonisphere in 2009. I still have some pictures taken at the end of the show. I was between the first and the second row with other Italian girls and he came in front of us to throw the drumsticks (that of course I couldn’t catch). His beard struck me, because they didn’t play for months and he and Johnny had long hair.
These are the things that I want to remember on occasion of the tenth anniversary of his passing, even if Jimmy is more alive than ever.
Eleven years ago, during the Gods Of Metal of 2008, I had the chance to see may favourite band playing live for the first time and behind the drums there was Jimmy.
I remember that the year before the DVD “All Excess” was released and it made us know him better off the stage; it depicted the image of a crazy boy, chaotic in the funniest and unpredictable way possible. One of the things that impressed me most when I saw him live was his complete transformation on stage, he became like a machine, all his energies were concentrated on the drums, he was focused on he what he was doing and he was precise and extraordinary at the same time.
While what that totally mirrored life off the stage was the harmony he had with his for best friends while they played; seeing them five play together was unforgettable, just something ideal, an indelible experience that I feel very lucky to have lived.
I don’t like to talk about Jimmy, and not because I don’t feel lucky to have been able to meet him, but because it is alway difficult and I would like to keep those vivid memories as if they were the most precious thing I have.
When people ask me who is the member of the band I care about most, I always answer that is him and I will always continue to do so, because there are two things that struck me when I first listened to Avenged Sevenfold: Jimmy’s drums and Matt’s voice. The first time I saw him was in 2008. We were in Bologna, and I was in the middle of the final high school examination, but I would have skipped the exams to see them. As soon as I arrived I reached the hotel of my friends and there I saw him for the first time. I just greeted him quickly and I left a package of Tuscan cigars at his door. However, the day after I managed to meet him before the band reached the arena, and still today I have a lump in the throat when I think about it. Jimmy was very nice, he signed autographs and took pictures smiling. Everything about him enchanted me: the exaggerated height (please understand, I am less than 1,60m tall), the tattoos on his arms, his big smile, the glasses that almost hided his blue eyes, his voice… but above all, his shyness. When he came out, he came to me smiling. He reassured me because the pen for the autograph didn’t work and he spontaneously smiled when I made him a compliment and thanked me. He told us that we would see at the show and to have fun, then he reached the bus with Matt and Brian.Today that autograph is tattooed on my skin, in memory of a person that taught me a lot.
A month after I met Jimmy again, when I went to Zurich to see them again. I was the first one to line up outside of the venue, so I could take the perfect place in the first row, between Matt and Brian and with a perfect view on Jimmy. I had a notebook with me, so I wrote different papers for the band (birthday wishes for Matt, the request to make Johnny sing “Seize the Day”) and obviously a paper to ask Jimmy to give me his drumstick. Despite I was super close to the stage, he couldn’t read a little paper without glasses, but thanks to Gates he understood that it was addressed to him. I remember that he stoop up and leaned over his drums, trying to read, and then he made me a sign of okay, after. And so it was. At that time they made a couple of pauses during the show and during the first one he reached the side of the stage and gave me the drumstick smiling. Obviously someone tried to stole it, but I protected it with bites and jabs. It is my favourite relic still today and sometimes I take it in my hands just to observe it, hold it tight and caress it (my precious!!!).
I want to say that, since he was a wonderful person, during the following pause he brought a drumstick also to Clarissa, who was next to me. At the end of the show I tried to thank him while he was reaching the bus and smiled at me, overcame by tiredness.
The last time I met him was a year later. Something told me that if they hadn’t come to Italy, I would have gone to them, so I bought a ticket for their show in Dublin with Metallica. I also prepared many gifts for them, hoping to have the chance to throw them on the stage, but this time I have been even more lucky.
We departed from Pisa with a terrible anxiety and more than one hour of delay due to a plane malfunction. That accident was our greatest luck. We arrived in Ireland an hour later and this random event made us meet the band while they were waiting for their luggages. I gave them the presents and greeted each one of them. Jimmy was the last one and I showed him the tattooed on my wrist, asking him if he liked it. Jimmy and Brian seemed a little bit high, maybe for the jet leg and the drinks on the plane, so at the beginning he didn’t understand why I was showing my tattoo to him.
Then, the epiphany: he noticed that the lyrics of “Afterlife” that I chose are the ones that he sang and that there were three red letters, R, E and V. He raised my wrist and he caressed it repeating “awesome, awesome” for an infinite time. He showed it to Brian, he smiled and after a while he left my wrist and suddenly hugged me. In my life, just few people held me so tight. I felt like a plush in his arms, it was so unexpected that I remained astonished and the only thing I could do was return the embrace. Then he thanked me telling me that he loved me and then we took some pictures together. He told that we would see the day after at the show and then he went to look for his luggage with the others.
While I was wandering around the room looking for my luggage, which was apparently disappeared (imagine the heart attack), I noticed that he sometimes looked at me, trying to understand why I was running nervously from one side of the room to another, until he finally saw me walking towards my friends with my luggage. He smiled at me pointing at the luggage (it has some turtles printed on it and it is beautiful) and he greeted me many times untile we came out of the airport. The day after I saw him play on the stage in Dublin and it was an incredible performance, they were all super excited and Jimmy was in good shape, it almost broke down the drums.
After 10 years and after several meetings with other band members that I have been following for decades, I can say that the affection perceived and received by him has been different: genuine, authentic and boundless. He was a kind and smiling person, always ready to give you one of his big hugs. Watching him playing was pure magic, the energy in person and you can see it just watching the live DVD of the band. Choirs and second voices were almost exclusively his work and every time Matt needed to catch his breath there was his voice to sing the lyrics he was skipping. I have never lost a show of this band and I appreciated all the Avenged Sevenfold “eras”, but it is undeniable that everything was different with Jimmy. They were a perfect machine that worked without hitches and the alchemy on stage with Rev is something that I haven’t seen in the last ten years. He was a wonderful human being, an impeccable musician and an exceptional and brilliant songwriter. Looking back, I’m sorry that I couldn’t saw him play live more times and that a lot of you didn’t have the pleasure to see him play or meet him.