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Sept 17, 2004
Toxicology and other tests determined that Rick James died last month from a heart attack due to an enlarged heart, with numerous drugs including methamphetamine and cocaine contributing factors, the
Toxicology and other tests determined that Rick James died last month from a heart attack due to an enlarged heart, with numerous drugs including methamphetamine and cocaine contributing factors, the county coroner’s office announced yesterday (Sept. 16).
The death was declared an accident, said coroner’s spokesman David Campbell, who emphasized that none of the drugs were found to be at life-threatening levels. “He didn’t die of a drug overdose,” Campbell said.
James, 56, was found dead Aug. 6 at his Hollywood residence. The death became a coroner’s case because James had not recently been seen by a doctor. An autopsy was performed Aug. 7 but the finding of the cause of death was deferred while toxicology and other tests were performed by a coroner’s pathologist.
The cause of death was officially determined to be acute cardiac dysfunction due to idiopathic cardiomyopathy, or an enlarged heart. The coroner’s office also listed focal pneumonia and “effects of multiple drugs” as other conditions contributing to the cause of death.
“Toxicology revealed the presence of the following drugs: Alprazolam (Xanax), Diazepam (Valium), Bupropion (Wellbutrin), Citalopram (Celexa), Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Digoxin, Chlorpheniramine, methamphetamine, and cocaine,” the coroner’s statement said. “None of the drugs or drug combinations were found to be at levels that were life threatening in and of themselves.”
James, best known for the 1981 hit “Super Freak,” had a long history of cocaine addiction, which led to a prison term for assaulting two women. In more recent years he suffered health problems, including a stroke.