Bay City Roller star Les McKeown’s widow has hit out at people who gave him drinks after a coroner found he was killed by his long-term addictions to alcohol and drugs.
Les, who is said to have left an estate worth £1.5million, was found unconscious by his wife Peko Keiko at their London home in April – the day after he started drinking again following 10 months of trying to stay sober.
But the 65-year-old was pronounced dead following a cardiac arrest, the inquest at Poplar Coroner’s Court heard.
The cause of death was found to be heart disease caused by long-term blood pressure due to the effects of long-term drug and alcohol abuse.
The Edinburgh-born star’s wife Peko has since hit out at the people who ‘made it easier’ for him to make some ‘wrong choices’ by giving him alcoholic drinks.
Pained: Bay City Roller Les McKeown’s cause of death has been revealed by his widow Peko Keiko who also says others ‘made it easier’ for him to make some ‘wrong choices’
Peko, who was married to the musician for more than 30 years, wrote on Facebook: ‘Leslie struggled with his addictions to alcohol so it confused and saddened us when people gave him drinks.
‘Ultimately, he made his own choices but people made it easier for him to make the wrong choices by putting alcohol in his hands.’
Les told his family before his death he was trying to get healthier by walking a mile twice a day with his wife and had quit booze in June 2020.
He even avoided New Year’s Eve parties and friends’ houses where he might be pressured to drink in the months before his death, the hearing was told.
But he relapsed at his home in Lower Clapton, east London, and suffered the fatal cardiac arrest the next day, the inquest heard.
Peko, who attended the inquest, burst into tears on hearing how one of his last acts before his fatal heart attack was kissing her goodbye as she went to tennis practice.
Heartbreak: Les, who was said to have left an estate worth £1.5million, passed away suddenly in April aged 65, leaving his wife Peko and son Jubei with unanswered questions
Her statement, read out by the Coroner, said: ‘I left the house at 9.20am to go to tennis practice and my husband wanted to help me take my bike downstairs.
‘He kissed me goodbye and went back upstairs. I returned at 11.30am. I placed the key in the front door but it wouldn’t move as if something was in the way.
‘I pushed the door and I saw my husband’s head on the door and he was not moving. I called out to my son and he was in his room on the second floor.
‘As soon as he came downstairs Leslie was not breathing and I was trying to call 999.
‘We moved him out of the doorway so I could come inside. I started doing mouth-to-mouth. My husband was pale but still warm.
‘I got my phone out to call the ambulance, but it wouldn’t go through as it was still connected to my bike’s Bluetooth.
‘I looked outside and saw a man passing by and asked for him to call an ambulance. He rushed over, called 999, and gave me his phone and I told the operator the address.
‘My son and I continued chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth while the man from the street put the 999 operator on speakerphone so we could follow their instructions. The ambulance arrived around 20 minutes later where they took over.’
Son Jubei McKeown said in a statement that he last saw his dad when he walked into his father’s bedroom following a night of drinking alcohol.
Shock: Les was one quarter of the hugely successful Scottish ensemble (L-R) Stuart ‘Woody’ Wood, Leslie, Alan Longmuir, Eric Faulkner and Derek Longmuir (bottom).
In his statement, he said: ‘He had been drinking alcohol the day before and he was lying on the bed.
‘I asked ‘are you alright?’ But he didn’t respond. I touched his arm and he said, ‘yes, I’m okay.’
He said he went into his room to play computer games with headphones on when he next heard the doorbell ring, and it was his mother who was trying to get into the house.
In a statement Jubei, who was not at the hearing, said: ‘I went downstairs and I saw my father lying on the floor with his head at the corner by the door.
‘He did not look normal and he was cold. I was in a state of shock.
‘I pulled him away from the window and I shouted at my mum to call for an ambulance.’
Paramedics who attended the address found Les with an abnormally high blood sugar level and delivered several shocks by a defibrillator. Resuscitation was ceased at 12.31pm on Tuesday April 20.
Police officers who attended the home found no sign of disturbance or forced entry and learned from his family that Mr McKeown had been alcohol dependent for the past 20 years and had used cocaine in the past.
A post-mortem found no alcohol or morphine was detected in Mr McKeown’s blood and only found a therapeutic level of paracetamol.
Senior Coroner Mary Hassell read evidence from the post-mortem that he suffered from a ‘markedly heavy heart’ and there was atrophy in the kidneys.
Speaking after the inquest, Jubei said: ‘My Dad always wore his heart on his sleeve so it wasn’t surprising to hear the coroner say that he had a ‘heavy heart’.’
The cause of death was found to hypertrophic heart disease caused by long-term blood pressure due to the effects of long-term drug and alcohol abuse.
The coroner in her ruling said: ‘Mr McKeown died from heart disease.
‘It was partly natural, it was long-term high blood pressure, and it was partly a consequence of the long-term use of excessive use of alcohol and drugs.
‘In terms of a determination, the only proper thing for me to do is explain that. It means it’s not quite as neat as saying this was natural causes or accident or drug or alcohol-related.
‘It was drug and alcohol-related in the sense it was the long-term use of drug and alcohol abuse. It was not an abuse of drug and alcohol use that day.
‘The toxicological analysis was negative – no alcohol, no drugs. This wasn’t an overdose. It wasn’t an alcohol binge.
‘I make the determination Leslie McKeown died from a combination of a natural cause, being long-term blood pressure and the long-term effects of alcohol and drugs.’
Her love: Keiko added: ‘Leslie struggled with his addictions to alcohol so it confused and saddened us when people gave him drinks’
Paying tribute, she said to his widow: ‘I remember your husband. I remember him very well.
‘He gave a great number of people a lot of pleasure. He will be greatly missed. I am so sorry for your loss.’
Speaking about the coroner’s verdict, Peko wrote on Facebook: ‘Today we attended Poplar Coroner’s Court to learn the cause of death for Leslie.
‘The coroner, Madam Hassell, recorded a verdict that Leslie died of a combination of natural causes, hypertrophic heart disease accelerated by type 2 diabetes mellitus made worse by the long term effects of high blood pressure and a history of alcohol & drug use.’
In a bid to raise money to help others in a similar position Peko wrote: ‘To honour Leslie’s memory in a positive way, we have chosen the charity Music Support UK if people want to send a thought or make a donation…
‘[To] support people in the music industry affected by anxiety, depression, addiction and alcoholism. The link: https://lesliemckeown.muchloved.com/Fundraising’.
‘The single ‘Danny Boy’ by Les McKeown with Vanessa Anne Redd was released on iTunes, Apple Music and Spotify. The song was played during Les’ committal at his private funeral in London on Sunday 23 May. All proceeds go directly to Music Support UK https://musicsupport.org’
‘#Dannyboylesmckeown. Thank you, Keiko and Jubei’.
It comes after Keiko candidly reflected on the late Bay City Rollers legend’s funeral, revealing she ‘cried until morning’ following the private service.
A small ceremony was held at the City of London Crematorium in East London in May, with only 30 mourners able to attend because of Covid regulations.
Speaking of the ceremony which saw Trainspotting author and friend Irvine Welsh deliver a eulogy, she wrote: ‘May 23rd The funeral was successfully completed.
‘I’m sorry I didn’t tell you when the funeral was. We are back home, Jubei and I. We cried until morning.
‘We are decided to send it to the end with a smile on the people who came. Thanks everyone. Finished quietly peace For my husband Leslie.’