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Last Updated: Friday, 17 September, 2004, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
Funk star James 'took nine drugs'
Rick James
James' family attributed the funk star's death to natural causes
Funk singer Rick James died of a heart attack that may have been brought on by at least nine drugs that were found in his system, a US coroner has said.

James, known for 1981 hit Super Freak, died in his sleep in August aged 56 after a history of crack cocaine abuse.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles County Coroner ruled his death was accidental.

"None of the drugs or drug combinations were found to be at levels that were life-threatening in and of themselves," coroner David Campbell said.

'Drug icon'

Drugs found in James' system at the time of his death included cocaine, methamphetamine and prescription drugs Xanax, Valium, Wellbutrin, Celexa, Vicodin and Digoxin.

James, who once proclaimed himself an "icon of drug use and eroticism", suffered a stroke in 1998 and had a pace-maker fitted.

His family attributed James' death to natural causes, but the coroner subsequently took over the case because James had not seen a doctor in the weeks before his death.

His song Super Freak was famously sampled by rapper MC Hammer in his song U Can't Touch This - the track earned the pair a Grammy award.

James also received a lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers this June.

He had recently finished recording a new album and was in discussions with Hollywood studios about making a film on his life.

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