Righteous Brother Bobby Hatfield apparently wasn't so righteous after all.
A coroner's report has struck a sour note after determining that cocaine triggered the sudden death of the 63-year-old "Unchained Melody" crooner.
Hatfield, who died just hours before a scheduled concert on November 5 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, was said to have succumbed to heart attack resulting from advanced coronary disease, per the initial autopsy.
But further investigation has shown that the heart attack was spurred by "acute cocaine intoxication" and that the level of cocaine in his blood, coupled with the fact that one of his arteries was almost completely blocked, was the true cause of his death.
"Cocaine is a stimulant that increases the strength and the rate of the heartbeat," Dr. Richard Tooker, chief medical examiner for Kalamazoo County, told the Kalamazoo Gazette. "In this case, there was already a significant amount of blockage in the coronary arteries. This blockage was not allowing enough blood flow to the heart muscle tissue to keep up with the demand the cocaine was placing on the heart."
Tooker said he had the results of toxicology tests before Christmas but decided to hold off releasing them to the public out of respect for Hatfield's memory.
Bill Medley, the other half of the famously blue-eyed, soul-singing Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-recognized duo, says he is stunned by the news.
"This is a shock to me," Medley told the Orange Country Register. "I never saw him [use cocaine]. I knew absolutely nothing about it. If I had known, I would have said something to him."
Hatfield's family members say they are equally as shocked. His widow, Linda, has suffered two strokes in the past two weeks following the coroner's revelation to her shortly after Christmas and remains in the hospital. Friends of the family attribute the news to her health problems.
Hatfield's son, Kalin, said that while he realized that drugs are a part of the rock 'n' roll community, his father certainly wasn't "someone who would be up all hours of the night."
"Even if there were anything like that, I wouldn't want his memory tarnished in that sort of way," he told the Register.
Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Dan Weston says he will not launch an investigation into the case because there were no illegal substances or drug paraphernalia found in Hatfield's hotel room after he died.