Robert Adam Yancy, the only son of the late singer Natalie Cole and the grandson of the legendary Nat King Cole, passed away on August 15, 2017, at the age of 39. His death shocked and saddened many fans and friends of the Cole family, who had already mourned the loss of Natalie less than two years earlier. But what was the cause of death of Robert Yancy, and what was his life like as the heir of a musical dynasty?
A Sudden Heart Attack
According to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, Robert Yancy’s death was reported as due to natural causes, but the official cause must await an autopsy and toxicology tests. However, his aunt, Timolin Cole Augustus, told The Associated Press that it appeared to be a sudden heart attack. She said that Yancy had no known health issues and was in good shape.
Yancy was found dead by a friend at his apartment in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles after authorities were contacted to make a welfare check. He was pronounced dead at the scene. No foul play was suspected, and drugs were not involved in his death.
A Talented Drummer and a Devoted Son
Robert Yancy, who went by Robbie, was born on October 14, 1977, in Los Angeles, California. His father was Marvin Yancy, the first of Natalie Cole’s three husbands and a former pastor and gospel musician. His mother was Natalie Cole, the daughter of Nat King Cole and a Grammy-winning singer who rose to fame in the 1970s with hits like “This Will Be” and “Inseparable”. His parents divorced in 1980, and his father died of a heart attack at age 34 in 1985, when Yancy was only 7 years old.
Yancy inherited his parents’ musical talent and became a drummer. He played in his mother’s touring band and performed at her funeral in January 2016, after she died of congestive heart failure at age 65. He also worked as an actor and composer, appearing in films like Fly, Queen Bess and Heaven Sent.
Yancy and his mother shared a strong Baptist faith and were regular churchgoers. He also had a close bond with his mother and supported her through her struggles with drug addiction, hepatitis C, and kidney failure. He once said of his mother, “She taught me how to love. She had my back every time when I needed it. The greatest gift she ever gave me was Jesus. I cannot wait until that day that I see you again.
A Legacy of Love and Music
Robert Yancy never married and had no children. He is survived by his mother’s twin sisters, Timolin and Casey Cole Hooker, and five cousins. His funeral arrangements were pending at the time of his death, but his aunt said that he would be laid to rest with his mother and grandfather at Forest Lawn in Glendale, California.
Yancy’s death marked the end of a musical dynasty that spanned three generations and influenced generations of fans and artists. His aunt said, “The dynasty is up in heaven.” She also described him as “a man of great strength and faith in God. He had an indomitable spirit. Everybody loved him.”
Robert Yancy’s cause of death may have been a heart attack, but his life was a celebration of love and music. He will be remembered as a talented drummer, a devoted son, and a beloved member of the Cole family.