Cocaine sparked Entwistle's fatal heart attack. An autopsy finds that the Who bassist, afflicted with heart disease, hastened his death with cocaine last month on the eve of the band's summer tour
John Entwistle
Credit: John Entwistle: Kathy Hutchins/Hutchins Photo/Newscom

The heart attack that killed John Entwistle in a Las Vegas hotel room last month was brought on by the Who bassist’s cocaine use, the Clark County, Nev., coroner told the Associated Press. Coroner Ron Flud ruled the 57-year-old’s death on June 27, one day before the band’s reunion tour was to kick off, was an accident and not an overdose.

Entwistle, who had been taking medication for heart disease, already had damaged arteries, which contracted because of the fatal dose of cocaine, Flud said. He told AP he found a ”significant amount” of cocaine in Entwistle’s system, but couldn’t say how much. ”Cocaine is a different animal,” Flud said. ”It’s not like alcohol. There’s no way we can put a number on it. You’ve got a lethal drug on board at the time you have a bad heart. That’s a bad combination.”

Flud’s ruling means that Entwistle is the second original member of the band to die an drug-related death. Drummer Keith Moon died in 1978 at age 32 from an overdose of prescription pills meant to help him control his alcoholism. A year after his death, the Who toured with new drummer Kenney Jones. This time, the Who waited only four days, then launched the current tour with session bassist Pino Palladino.