Radio host Art Bell died of accidental drug overdose: Clark coroner office

Updated August 2, 2018 - 4:54 pm

Longtime Pahrump radio personality Art Bell died of an accidental overdose from a cocktail of prescription drugs, the Clark County coroner’s office said Wednesday.

Bell died April 13 in a bedroom of his Pahrump home at age 72. The coroner’s office determined he had four prescription medications in his system: the opioid oxycodone, the analgesic hydrocodone, diazepam, often marketed as Valium, and carisoprodol, a muscle relaxant. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and hypertension contributed to his death, the coroner’s office said.

The drugs that killed Bell were lawfully prescribed to him, the Nye County Sheriff’s office said in a video posted to Facebook.

Bell was known as the late-night host, engineer and producer of the show “Coast to Coast AM.” He specialized in talking about all things weird, including UFOs, alien abductions and crop circles, on his nationally syndicated show to as many as 15 million people nightly. After retiring from hosting full time in 2003, he started his own satellite radio show from his home.

He retired and came back to radio on several different occasions over the years.

His original late-night Las Vegas program on KDWN-AM 720 many years ago was focused mainly on politics, but he eventually abandoned the format in favor of hot-button issues such as conspiracy theories and gun control.

That decision created a sizable jump in his overnight ratings.

His work also captured the imaginations of long-haul truckers and insomniacs alike during his late-night shows. He was inducted into the Nevada Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2006 and into the National Radio Hall of Fame two years later.

Roughly five years ago, Bell signed a contract with Sirius XM satellite radio to host a new program entitled, “Art Bell’s Dark Matter.”

At the time, Bell, told the Pahrump Valley Times that the decision to come back to radio was not a very difficult one to make.

“That was easy, because I love it. It’s my life and that’s all I have ever done,” he said. “I went through a lot of family problems so that interrupted things and I was overseas for four years and that certainly interrupted things. I went back into radio because I love it.

Though the show began on Sept. 16, 2013, Bell decided to end the program roughly six weeks later.

His decision to end the program was due to technological issues and a disagreement over the show’s distribution.

Bell had also seen personal tragedy in his life.

Back in 2006, his wife, Ramona Bell, died unexpectedly at the age of 47, in Laughlin, Nevada.

Bell remarried later that year, Airyn Ruiz-Bell, in the Philippines.

Bell stepped away from radio for good in 2015, about five months after launching the program “Midnight in the Desert.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Blake Apgar contributed to this story.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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