An autopsy has confirmed what killed Nolan Neal, a former competitor on America’s Got Talent and The Voice.
The 41-year-old singer from Nashville, who appeared on AGT season 15 and The Voice season 11, passed away on July 18 at his apartment. Due to “acute combination medication poisoning,” an accidental death was ruled during Neal’s autopsy.
A representative from the Nashville office of the medical examiner verified to PEOPLE that a lethal mix of morphine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, and acetyl fentanyl was detected in Neal’s system. (Page Six of the New York Post broke the story, and following reports from other media outlets corroborated the details.)
Neal’s death was verified by his cousin Dylan Seals, who spoke to TMZ at the time and said that the singer had been discovered in his apartment. According to Page Six’s reporting at the time, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department received a call about a “dead person” who turned out to be Neal.
A spokeswoman for the department told the media that a black guitar pick with what looked like powder residue was found on the desk adjacent to the bed. According to reports, the victim had a history of drug usage.
Seals expressed sadness to PEOPLE about how Neal “ultimately succumbed to his struggle with substance misuse” at the time of Neal’s death.
It was something he “always talked openly and honestly about,” Seals added. “He cared deeply for his family and did his best for his children. He was a beacon for all who knew him. My deepest sympathies go out to his mother Cathy and his two children.”
July of 2020 saw Neal saying to WBIR, “I joined the rock band Hinder, they were all about drinking and partying.”
“Previously, I had the experience of getting a drink at a pub. I attempted to conceal it, “And so on, he went on. “I tried to act like I was perfectly OK, but I recall feeling quite uncomfortable. Just kidding myself that I had it under control was a lie.”
It was 2016’s The Voice that launched Neal’s career. Although he was ultimately eliminated from the competition, his rendition of “Drive” by Incubus at his audition secured him a seat on Adam Levine’s squad.
After waiting nearly four years, Neal finally made it onto America’s Got Talent in 2020. In his audition, he performed a song he wrote called “Lost.” The Judges’ Choice round of the quarterfinals was where he ultimately lost.
Simon Cowell spoke up to PEOPLE about Neal’s death weeks after his passing.
Cowell, 62, says before Tuesday’s live AGT episodes, “Unfortunately, that occurs too much over the years.” “The other day, I was contemplating this same thing. Those who left this world far too soon. Because of how well you know them, it’s devastating every time it happens.”
During such times, he says, “I’m at a loss for words.” It’s occurred way too often, and every time it does, it’s a struggle.
Cowell said, “In reference to the passing of another AGT competitor and his Golden Buzzer pick Nightbirde in February:
“It’s been challenging over the past three years. And just when you think things are settling down, a tale like that comes along and punches you square in the gut.”
However, “what I’ve learned from this is that you just take every day as it is and try to stay optimistic, you try to stay healthy,” he says. “In any case, that’s all there is to it. You can never be ready for these days; in fact, I was just saying that to someone earlier.”