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Drummer's Death Linked to Cocaine, Coroner Says : Autopsy: Report finds no evidence to support earlier belief that Toto's Jeff Porcaro died of an allergic reaction to a pesticide.

September 04, 1992|JULIE TAMAKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jeff Porcaro, drummer for the rock band Toto, died of hardening of the arteries caused by cocaine use--not from an allergic reaction to a pesticide as originally reported, the Los Angeles County coroner's office said Thursday,

The 38-year-old rock star fell ill after spraying insecticide in the yard of his Hidden Hills home Aug. 5, and died that evening at Humana Hospital-West Hills.

The band's co-manager, Larry Fitzgerald, said at the time that doctors told him the cause of death may have been a reaction to inhaling the insecticide.

However, an autopsy released Thursday determined that Porcaro died of occlusive coronary artery disease caused by hardening of the arteries because of cocaine use, coroner's spokesman Bob Dambacher said. A toxicology report discovered cocaine and a byproduct of the drug in Porcaro's blood, he said.

Tests performed to detect the presence of the insecticide came up negative, but there was .21 micrograms per milliliter of cocaine in the musician's blood, Dambacher said.

Porcaro helped found Toto, a group that sold millions of records during the 1970s and '80s. He was also a highly respected session drummer who played for musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Paul McCartney.

Porcaro began his 20-year music career as a student at Grant High School in Van Nuys, playing in bands with friends who later earned reputations as top sessions players and later formed the basis for Toto.

Porcaro's two brothers, Mike and Steve, were also Toto members.

More than 1,200 mourners attended Porcaro's funeral, including rock stars Eddie Van Halen, Jackson Browne and Don Henley.

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