Austin Peralta Died From Pneumonia Combined With Drugs and Alcohol, Says Coroner
Twenty-two-year-old virtuoso pianist Austin Peralta died shockingly the day before Thanksgiving. Until now, details of the final hours of his life have been mostly a mystery.
Angie Seegers Austin Peralta
See also: The Life and Death of Austin Peralta
His coroner's report, obtained by West Coast Sound, states that viral pneumonia was the most likely cause of death -- aggravated by a series of chemical depressants including alcohol, morphine, and sedative drugs including Xanax and Valium.
When all of those depressants entered Peralta's body on the morning of November 21, 2012, they reacted in tandem with the underlying pneumonia to stop his breathing.
Peralta had apparently been running a fever and coughing in mid-October, which led to the development of viral pneumonia in the weeks prior to a live performance backing singer Natasha Agrama at the Blue Whale on the evening of Tuesday, November 20.
Peralta was reportedly in fine form that night, and the concert went well. Some of the show was recorded, including the evening's last number, "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" (above), a song Joni Mitchell added lyrics to after the death of the great jazz bassist Charles Mingus.
After the show Peralta went to Bar Marmont in Hollywood with a few friends including Agrama, drummer Ronald Bruner Jr., and bassist Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner. Peralta invited Blue Whale owner Joon Lee to join them as well, but Lee was unable to go. He had several drinks, and the group posed for photos. Eventually Peralta convinced those friends he could drive, leaving Bar Marmont alone around 3 am.
Peralta's roommate reported to police that he got to their Santa Monica apartment around 5:15 am and awakened him while appearing to be intoxicated, and that Peralta had pasta to eat before going to sleep around 5:45. Around 11:30 he was heard "snoring" by his roommate, which a physician interviewed about the autopsy report pointed to as a signal of Peralta's respiratory system going into distress, in what the report described as symptoms similar to asthma.