At the time of his death in early August, Rick James was making a comeback. So, apparently, were the drug demons he’d openly battled over the years. According to wire service reports, the Los Angeles coroner’s office issued a report Thursday that attributed the 56-year-old funk legend’s death to a heart attack caused by an enlarged heart, but it also pointed to the nine drugs in his system — including cocaine and crystal meth — as possible contributing factors.
James had spoken openly in interviews about his battles with drugs. A crack binge in 1991 led to a jail term for assault; James would later tell EW that life behind bars had shocked him into sobriety. In recent years, he’d faced several ailments, including diabetes, a stroke, and heart disease, for which he’d been fitted with a pacemaker.
The report found that James had recently used cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as prescription painkillers and sedatives, including Valium, Xanax, and Vicodin. Nonetheless, the report said, ”None of the drugs or drug combinations were found to be at levels that were life-threatening in and of themselves,” meaning that James did not die of an overdose. His death has been ruled an accident.