Jazz Star Comatose After Fight At Bar

by Tom Moon
Miami Herald
September 16, 1987

Jazz star Jaco Pastorius was in a coma Tuesday following an altercation with the manager of a Wilton Manors private club early Saturday.

John Francis Pastorius III, 35, burst onto the music scene with the popular fusion group Weather Report in 1976 but in recent months has been unemployed and repeatedly arrested in his native Fort Lauderdale.

Tuesday night he was in surgical intensive care at Broward General Medical Center with a fractured skull, fractured facial bones and internal bleeding, a hospital spokesman said. Friends and relatives said he also had pneumonia, was breathing with a respirator and was unable to communicate.

"He's in pretty bad shape," said his brother, Greg Pastorius. "Everyone is hanging in there with him. The internal bleeding has apparently stopped."

According to a Wilton Manors police report, Pastorius was injured at approximately 4 a.m. Saturday when he was forcibly turned away from the Midnight bottle club at 2248 Wilton Dr. He began repeatedly kicking the front door. The manager, unidentified in the report, told police he opened the door and encountered Pastorius, who swung at him and missed. While Pastorius was off balance, the manager pushed him away, causing him to fall to the concrete. Pastorius was unconscious and in a pool of blood when paramedics arrived on the scene, the police report said.

Wilton Manors police said Tuesday that the incident was still under investigation.

Earlier that evening, Pastorius was reportedly removed from the stage at Sunrise Musical Theatre when he jumped onstage during Carlos Santana's performance.

Pastorius was released from Dade County jail Sept. 8, after serving several weeks on an auto theft charge. It was his ninth arrest since his return to South Florida from New York earlier this year -- on charges ranging from drunk driving in Palm Beach County to driving a stolen car around the running track at Holiday Park.

The musician had become known to police for sleeping in Fort Lauderdale parks, and had a record of trouble with local nightclub owners.

"It's been seemingly a self-destruction thing," said guitarist Randy Bernsen, a long-time friend. "It was like, 'How much can I hurt myself?'"

In addition to his work with Weather Report, Pastorius recorded with artists as disparate as singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell, guitarist Pat Metheny, and reggae singer Jimmy Cliff.

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