Grateful Dead Member Died of Drug Overdose

From United Press International

A lethal mixture of morphine and cocaine commonly known as a “speedball” killed Grateful Dead keyboardist Brent Mydland, a coroner reported Friday.

The cause of death was “acute cocaine and narcotic intoxication,” said the report released by Richard Rainey, Contra Costa County coroner.

Mydland, 37, was found dead in his home in the east San Francisco suburb of Lafayette on July 26.

The final autopsy report also noted that there was no sign of foul play and that no drugs or paraphernalia were found in Mydland’s residence.


However, Rainey said in a prepared statement, “the autopsy revealed a recent puncture mark on the left arm consistent with recent intravenous injection prior to death.” A toxicology examination of the body disclosed “a lethal level of morphine and cocaine,” a mixture “commonly referred to as a ‘speedball,’ ” Rainey said.

He had no further comment.

Mydland, a Northern California native, had been playing keyboards for the Grateful Dead since 1979. He was the Dead’s third keyboardist to die since the popular rock group was formed in 1965. Founding member Ron (Pigpen) McKernan died of liver disease in 1973, and Keith Godchaux died in a car crash in 1980, one year after leaving the band.

Since the 1980s, Mydland had played an increasingly larger role in the band, writing and performing as lead singer for three songs on the group’s latest album, “Built to Last.”


Mydland is survived by his wife, Lisa, and his daughters, Jessica and Jennifer.