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Alcohol, drugs found in Manuel's blood

WINTER PARK, Fla. -- Rock musician Richard Manuel, who hanged himself last week in a motel bathroom, waslegally drunk and had ingested cocaine the day he died, a blood toxicology report shows.

'I want to make it clear that this has nothing to do with the cause of death,' Shashi Gore, the Orange County deputy medical examiner, said of the drugs in Manuel's blood. 'He died plain and simple from hanging.'

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Traces of an opiate and sympathomimetic amine, a drug found in non-prescription cold medicine, also were found but the opiate could have come from several legal or illegal medicines, the report issued Monday said.

Manuel, the 42-year-old pianist, drummer and singer with The Band, was found hanging from a shower curtain rod by his wife, Arlie, several hours after a performance at the Cheek to Cheek lounge March 4. An autopsy showed he died between 2:30 a.m. and 3:30 a.m.

Gore said there was no way to tell if the drugs effected Manuel's state of mind before his death. Band members, friends and family told police they were stunned by Manuel's unexpected suicide.

The tests did not show the quantity of other drugs found in the body, but the blood-alcohol level was 0.15 percent. A level of 0.10 is legally drunk under Florida law.

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Gore said there were no plans to do more extensive testing.

'We would only do it if there was some question about the cause of death,' he said. 'It is not warranted.'

The Band, whose music spanned three decades before breaking up in 1978, was reunited in August without original guitarist and chief songwriter Jamie 'Robbie' Robertson.

Along with new guitarist Jimmy Wieder, Manual was touring the remainder of the original group: keyboard and saxophone player Garth Hudson, bassist Rick Danko and drummer and singer Levon Helm.

The final concert of the original band was documented in the film 'The Last Waltz,' in which other rock notables joined the group in a farewell performance.

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