Presley's condition declined precipitously in September. Keyboardist Tony Brown remembered Presley's arrival at a University of Maryland concert: "He fell out of the limousine, to his knees. People jumped to help, and he pushed them away like, 'Don't help me. Everybody's looking at each other like, 'Is the tour gonna happen'? He was slurring. He was so fucked up.
It was obvious he was drugged. It was obvious there was something terribly wrong with his body. It was so bad the words to the songs were barely intelligible. I remember crying. He could barely get through the introductions. So often I thought, 'Boss, why don't you just cancel this tour and take a year off? He patted me on the back and said, 'It'll be all right. Don't you worry about it. As cultural critic Marjorie Garber describes, he was now widely seen as a garish pop crooner: "In effect, he had become Liberace.
Even his fans were now middle-aged matrons and blue-haired grandmothers. On July 13, , Vernon Presley—who had become deeply involved in his son's financial affairs—fired " Memphis Mafia " bodyguards Red West Presley's friend since the s , Sonny West , and David Hebler, citing the need to "cut back on expenses".
Another associate of Presley's, John O'Grady, argued that the bodyguards were dropped because their rough treatment of fans had prompted too many lawsuits. RCA, which had enjoyed a steady stream of product from Presley for over a decade, grew anxious as his interest in spending time in the studio waned. After a December session that produced 18 songs, enough for almost two albums, he did not enter the studio in For all the concerns of his label and manager, in studio sessions between July and October , Presley recorded virtually the entire contents of six albums.
Though he was no longer a major presence on the pop charts, five of those albums entered the top five of the country chart, and three went to number one: Promised Land , From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee , and Moody Blue Eight studio singles from this period released during his lifetime were top ten hits on one or both charts, four in alone. Presley and Linda Thompson split in November , and he took up with a new girlfriend, Ginger Alden. Hugely overweight, his mind dulled by the pharmacopia he daily ingested, he was barely able to pull himself through his abbreviated concerts.
According to Guralnick, fans "were becoming increasingly voluble about their disappointment, but it all seemed to go right past Presley, whose world was now confined almost entirely to his room and his spiritualism books. In the first, shot in Omaha on June 19, Presley's voice, Guralnick writes, "is almost unrecognizable, a small, childlike instrument in which he talks more than sings most of the songs, casts about uncertainly for the melody in others, and is virtually unable to articulate or project". The book Elvis: What Happened?
He was devastated by the book and tried unsuccessfully to halt its release by offering money to the publishers. On the evening of Tuesday, August 16, , Presley was scheduled to fly out of Memphis to begin another tour.
That afternoon, Ginger Alden discovered him in an unresponsive state on a bathroom floor. According to her eyewitness account, "Elvis looked as if his entire body had completely frozen in a seated position while using the commode and then had fallen forward, in that fixed position, directly in front of it. President Jimmy Carter issued a statement that credited Presley with having "permanently changed the face of American popular culture".
Presley's funeral was held at Graceland on Thursday, August Outside the gates, a car plowed into a group of fans, killing two women and critically injuring a third. While an autopsy, undertaken the same day Presley died, was still in progress, Memphis medical examiner Dr.
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Jerry Francisco announced that the immediate cause of death was cardiac arrest. Asked if drugs were involved, he declared that "drugs played no role in Presley's death". The pathologists conducting the autopsy thought it possible, for instance, that he had suffered "anaphylactic shock brought on by the codeine pills he had gotten from his dentist, to which he was known to have had a mild allergy". A pair of lab reports filed two months later strongly suggested that polypharmacy was the primary cause of death; one reported "fourteen drugs in Elvis' system, ten in significant quantity".
That, together with his drug habit, caused his death.
But he was difficult to diagnose; it was a judgment call. The competence and ethics of two of the centrally involved medical professionals were seriously questioned. Francisco had offered a cause of death before the autopsy was complete; claimed the underlying ailment was cardiac arrhythmia , a condition that can be determined only in someone who is still alive; and denied drugs played any part in Presley's death before the toxicology results were known.
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George Nichopoulos, exonerated him of criminal liability for his death, the facts were startling: "In the first eight months of alone, he had [prescribed] more than 10, doses of sedatives, amphetamines, and narcotics: all in Elvis' name. It was permanently revoked in the s after the Tennessee Medical Board brought new charges of over-prescription. In , the Presley autopsy report was reopened. Joseph Davis, who had conducted thousands of autopsies as Miami-Dade County coroner,  declared at its completion, "There is nothing in any of the data that supports a death from drugs. In fact, everything points to a sudden, violent heart attack.
Francisco did not speak for the entire pathology team. Other staff "could say nothing with confidence until they got the results back from the laboratories, if then. That would be a matter of weeks. Eric Muirhead "could not believe his ears. Francisco had not only presumed to speak for the hospital's team of pathologists, he had announced a conclusion that they had not reached.
Early on, a meticulous dissection of the body As they proceeded, the doctors saw evidence that his body had been wracked over a span of years by a large and constant stream of drugs. They had also studied his hospital records, which included two admissions for drug detoxification and methadone treatments. Dan Warlick, who was present at the autopsy, "believes Presley's chronic constipation—the result of years of prescription drug abuse and high-fat, high-cholesterol gorging—brought on what's known as Valsalva's maneuver.
Put simply, the strain of attempting to defecate compressed the singer's abdominal aorta , shutting down his heart. However, in , Dr. Forest Tennant , who had testified as a defense witness in Nichopoulos' trial, described his own analysis of Presley's available medical records. He concluded that Presley's "drug abuse had led to falls, head trauma, and overdoses that damaged his brain", and that his death was due in part to a toxic reaction to codeine—exacerbated by an undetected liver enzyme defect—which can cause sudden cardiac arrhythmia.
Between and , six of Presley's posthumously released singles were top-ten country hits.
About Elvis Presley
Graceland was opened to the public in Attracting over half a million visitors annually, it became the second most-visited home in the United States, after the White House. In , he received the W. It topped the charts in over 20 countries, and was included in a compilation of Presley's number-one hits, ELV1S , which was also an international success. The album returned Presley to the Billboard summit for the first time in almost three decades. In , a remix of " Rubberneckin' ", a recording of Presley's, topped the U. They were part of a campaign that saw the re-release of all 18 of Presley's previous chart-topping U.
The first, "All Shook Up", came with a collectors' box that made it ineligible to chart again; each of the other 17 reissues hit the British top five. For much of his adult life, Presley, with his rise from poverty to riches and massive fame, had seemed to epitomize the American Dream. Since , there have been numerous alleged sightings of Presley. A long-standing conspiracy theory among some fans is that he faked his death. It is as if he has been canonized by acclamation. Presley's earliest musical influence came from gospel.
His mother recalled that from the age of two, at the Assembly of God church in Tupelo attended by the family, "he would slide down off my lap, run into the aisle and scramble up to the platform. There he would stand looking at the choir and trying to sing with them. The Statesmen were an electric combination Bass singer Jim Wetherington, known universally as the Big Chief, maintained a steady bottom, ceaselessly jiggling first his left leg, then his right, with the material of the pants leg ballooning out and shimmering.
As a teenager , Presley's musical interests were wide-ranging, and he was deeply informed about both white and African-American musical idioms. Though he never had any formal training, he was blessed with a remarkable memory, and his musical knowledge was already considerable by the time he made his first professional recordings aged 19 in When Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller met him two years later, they were astonished at his encyclopedic understanding of the blues,  and, as Stoller put it, "He certainly knew a lot more than we did about country music and gospel music.
Presley received his first guitar when he was 11 years old.
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He learned to play and sing; he gained no formal musical training but had an innate natural talent and could easily pick up music. While he couldn't read or write music and had no formal lessons, he was a natural musician and played everything by ear. Presley played rhythm acoustic guitar in most of his Sun recordings and his s RCA albums. Presley was a central figure in the development of rockabilly , according to music historians. Carl Perkins was doing basically the same sort of thing up around Jackson , and I know for a fact Jerry Lee Lewis had been playing that kind of music ever since he was ten years old.
At RCA, Presley's rock and roll sound grew distinct from rockabilly with group chorus vocals, more heavily amplified electric guitars  and a tougher, more intense manner. In , his first gospel record was released, the four-song EP Peace in the Valley. Certified as a million seller, it became the top-selling gospel EP in recording history.
After his return from military service in , Presley continued to perform rock and roll, but the characteristic style was substantially toned down. His first post-Army single, the number-one hit "Stuck on You", is typical of this shift. RCA publicity materials referred to its "mild rock beat"; discographer Ernst Jorgensen calls it "upbeat pop".
While Presley performed several of his classic ballads for the '68 Comeback Special, the sound of the show was dominated by aggressive rock and roll. He would record few new straight-ahead rock and roll songs thereafter; as he explained, they were "hard to find". Like his work of the s, Presley's subsequent recordings reworked pop and country songs, but in markedly different permutations.
His stylistic range now began to embrace a more contemporary rock sound as well as soul and funk. Much of Elvis in Memphis , as well as "Suspicious Minds", cut at the same sessions, reflected his new rock and soul fusion. In the mids, many of his singles found a home on country radio, the field where he first became a star. The developmental arc of Presley's singing voice, as described by critic Dave Marsh, goes from "high and thrilled in the early days, [to] lower and perplexed in the final months.
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