During the last months of his life, Elvis Presley suffered a lot physical pain. The “King of Rock” had divorced his wife Priscilla Presley in 1973 and became addicted to medication to get by, all while maintaining a grueling schedule. He turned to food for comfort and came to regret 130 kilos. On August 16, 1977, 45 years ago, he was found dead in the bathroom of Graceland, the mansion he owned in Memphis, with his head submerged in a puddle of vomit. He was 42 years old.
“It’s hard for us to imagine that he was in physical pain because he looked so perfect on the outside.”said Sally A. Hoedel, author of the book titled “Elvis: Destined to Die Young” (2020), which explores the music icon’s health history and what contributed to his untimely death. “Those health problems were made more difficult for him by being on tour in recent years.said the writer in statements to the chain foxnews.
On August 16, 1977, the singer of songs like “Can’t help fall in love” and “Jailhouse rock” was found unconscious by his girlfriend Ginger Alden. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The autopsy determined that he died of a heart attack. Later reports, however, focused on the substance abuse.
For “Elvis: Destined to Die Young,” Hoedel spoke with numerous of Presley’s friends.
In the book, Hoedel described how Presley trusted the showgirl Kathy Westmoreland, who told him that his “eyes were a constant source of pain along with other ailments”. He would ask her, “Would you rub my legs? They are killing me”. Presley’s physician, George Nichopoulos, or “Dr. Nick,” said Elvis “He suffered from chronic pain from degenerative back and neck problems as a result of severe arthritis.”
“Elvis knew there was something terribly wrong with his body,” said Larry Geller, the artist’s hairstylist.
Hodel claimed that Presley continued to use medication not only to relieve chronic pain but also to keep up with a grueling tour.
“Elvis was a strong individual”, reflected his stepbrother Billy Stanley. “He believed that he could overcome all his problems by himself. He once told me: ‘You never hear Superman asking for help’”.
“In 1956 it was unknown that these pills could become addictive. And in the 70s I suffered from insomnia. He was taking things like Valium to get him to sleep. His doctor tried at one point to see if he could sleep without anything. I think he was awake for three days. They finally had to give him medication so he could sleep,” Hodel explained.
However, as Presley’s body fell apart, Hoedel said his determination to go on tour remained.
“Elvis had an incredible work ethic,” he explained. “When he played Vegas, he played two shows a day for 30 days, that’s 60 shows. But his immune system wasn’t fighting infections like it should. He often had a fever and flu-like symptoms.”
In the year Presley died, he had a fourth tour scheduled for May 20. Hoedel claimed that those who knew Presley were concerned about the physical distress and the stress that he was enduring to fulfill his commitments.
The book alleges that during the second show of that fourth tour, Presley, who was semi-conscious, had his head submerged in a bucket of ice water. His manager, Colonel Tom Parker, allegedly yelled: “The only important thing is that he is on that stage tonight!”
Hoedel said that Presley was “concerneddue to his deteriorating health.
“In the last years of his life, he was very aware of how sick he was”, said. “And he wasn’t honest with everyone about it. He was also surrounded by many people who said ‘yes’ to him. And he was the boss. No one was going to question it. He also worked very hard to hide it. He was just honest with a few people about it.”
Hoedel reported that Elvis refused to cancel his presentations despite knowing that his body was no longer giving. “‘I do not can. Everyone trusts me.’ He had such a great obligation as a provider. He brought the whole family out of poverty from him. That always stayed with him. He felt the pressure. So when he was sick, he didn’t stop like he should have. He just took more medication to keep going.”
The fifth tour of the year, made up of 10 cities, 10 shows in 10 days, began on June 17 and ended on June 26. At his last concert, which took place in Indiana, Presley confessed: “My body hurts a lot, but no matter what happens tonight I’m going to go out there and give everything I have… no matter what happens.”
Westmoreland said she was horrified to hear that even in his condition, Presley was already preparing for another tour. She allegedly told him: “I can’t baby, I can’t stop now. The Colonel owes a lot of money in gambling debts and some of the boys will be in bad shape financially if I don’t keep working. They have families to take care of.”
The day Presley died, Colonel Parker was already planning the start of his next tour.
His father, Vernon Presley, tried to revive him and begged his son not to leave him. He was later pronounced dead at Baptist Memorial Hospital. More than 80,000 people took part in the procession to Forest Hill Cemetery, where Presley was buried next to his mother.
“Elvis’s story has long been told as one of self-destructionHoedel said. “I see it as a survival story. He had to survive extreme poverty, and then he had to survive extreme fame. He achieved the American dream, but he was also human. He had weaknesses”.