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Chet Baker Died Shortly After Using Heroin

May 15, 1988 GMT

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ American jazz artist Chet Baker had been using heroin shortly before his fatal fall from a third-floor hotel window, police said Saturday.

Baker, 58, had a history of drug abuse and died early Friday near Amsterdam’s heroin district.

The trumpeter, famed for his appearances with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet in the 1950s, had been scheduled to go on a tour of the Netherlands, West Berlin and France.

″The way it looks, he had just been using″ heroin, police spokesman Klaas Wilting told The Associated Press. Traces of heroin abuse were found in Baker’s hotel room, he added.

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″Maybe he started acting funny ... He was alone and shoved the window open himself and either fell or jumped out ... I don’t suppose we’ll ever find out which,″ Wilting added.

A receptionist at the Prins Hendrik hotel, where Baker checked in Thursday, recounted how the musician ″was a little nervous″ when he arrived. He did not elaborate.

The receptionist, who refused to give his name, added that the window of the room Baker was in slides open vertically, leaving a 10-inch gap at most.

″How he got through there, I don’t know,″ the receptionist said.

Born as Chesney H. Baker in Yale, Okla., in December 1929, Baker’s career got into full swing when he joined British saxophonist Mulligan and his quartet.

Known to jazz buffs as the initiator of the ″cool school″ of jazz, Baker was renowned for the thin, cool tone of his trumpet playing and spent most of his time in Europe.

Baker, who appeared frequently in the Netherlands, was beset by arrests and heroin problems throughout most of his later career and was sentenced to a 16- month prison term for drug offenses in Italy in the early 1960s.