Drugs and heart disease killed Who star Entwistle

Legendary bass guitarist John Entwistle died from a heart stoppage triggered by a "moderate" amount of cocaine, an inquest heard yesterday.

But the death of the 57-year-old member of The Who was also caused in part by a heart condition made worse by years of smoking.

Mr Entwistle was found dead in a Las Vegas hotel room on June 27, on the eve of a United States tour by the band.

Yesterday coroner Lester Maddrell concluded that "he died from the effects of a single moderate usage of cocaine" coming on top of a heart condition.

None of Mr Entwistle's family attended the hearing at Tewkesbury,Gloucestershire, in which Mr Maddrell went through written statements and evidence gathered by US authorities.

The coroner said it was not possible to reduce the verdict to one or two words.

Toxicology tests showed no alcohol but two different types of cocaine and the inquest was told that Entwistle had used the drug three to four hours before his death.

Dr Jeremy Uff, consultant histopathologist at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, said that all three of Mr Entwistle's arteries were very narrow, with one completely blocked by a clogging of fatty and scar tissue, in keeping with a history of high cholesterol levels, and compounded by smoking.

Mr Entwistle's GP Dr Tim Healey said the star, who was known affectionately to fans as The Ox, had been suffering from high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels for some years.

The doctor said that the rock star smoked 20 cigarettes and drank six to seven units of alcohol a day but kept regular checks on his blood and cholesterol levels.

The coroner concluded: "To summarise the amount of cocaine found to be present was not a huge amount but in someone with pre-existing and naturally occurring heart disease it could bring about a fatal stopping in the rhythm of the heart."

The rock star's bedroom companion was not identified during the inquest hearing, which confirmed the findings of a US coroner who investigated the death in July but Las Vegas stripper Alison Rowse, 32, has previously told reporters she was with Entwistle on the night he died.

"There were only two people in that room and one of those is dead," she said recently.

Miss Rowse claimed she first met the musician in 1989 when his band arrived in Las Vegas during a US tour.

Twice-married Mr Entwistle was living with his long-time girlfriend Lisa Pritchard-Johnson at the time of his death.

The star formed The Who with friend Pete Townshend, which became one of the most influential British bands of the late 1960s and 1970s. He also had solo success.