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Autopsy on Funk Singer Rick James Is Inconclusive
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – An autopsy performed over the weekend on “Super Freak” singer Rick James failed to establish the cause of his death, a Los Angeles County coroner’s spokesman said on Monday.
The autopsy found no sign of foul play but “no obvious sign” of what caused the 56-year-old funk music pioneer’s death, coroner’s spokesman David Campbell said.
Toxicology tests, expected within 10 weeks, could provide a clearer picture, he said.
James suffered from diabetes and had a pacemaker. He had been in fragile health since suffering a stroke in 1998 after bursting a blood vessel at a concert in Denver.
He died in his sleep on Friday at his Los Angeles home.
Despite his family’s belief that the self proclaimed “icon of drug use and eroticism” died of natural causes, coroner’s officials removed James’ body from the mortuary because his death certificate was not signed by a doctor, Campbell said.
“It was originally thought that the attending physician would sign the death certificate (but) he couldn’t because he had not attended Mr. James recently,” Campbell said.
James was perhaps best known for his 1981 smash “Super Freak.” The song was reborn a decade later when rapper M.C. Hammer included it on “U Can’t Touch This,” one of the biggest rap records of all time.
James became hooked on crack cocaine and in 1993 was sentenced to five years in prison for assault and imprisonment for two separate incidents in which he and his then-21-year-old girlfriend beat and held two women captive.