Elvis Presley, widely recognized as the “The King of Rock and Roll,” passed away on August 16, 1977, at 42 years old, in his Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee.
He was found unconscious in the master bathroom by his then-fiancée, Ginger Alden. He was quickly taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead after unsuccessful efforts to resuscitate him.
His official cause of death was reported as a heart problem unrelated to drugs. Nevertheless, it is now commonly believed that his demise was a result of his prolonged and severe substance abuse.
At the time of his passing, Elvis was a heavy user of various prescription medications, including opiates, barbiturates, and sedatives.
The toxicology examination of his blood, which was carried out several weeks after his death, supposedly revealed high levels of the opiates Dilaudid, Percodan, and Demerol, as well as Quaaludes and codeine, among others.
Similar to many well-known performers of the time, Elvis shared this characteristic with Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis, who were also under the care of Dr. Nichopoulos.
Elvis, his family, and his team had largely succeeded in keeping the more unpleasant aspects of his life confidential. Immediately after his passing, his family requested a private autopsy to establish the cause of his death.
Tennessee’s Chief Medical Examiner Jerry Francisco released the star’s official death certificate a few days later, citing the cause as a heart problem unrelated to drugs.
Francisco’s judgment and methods were heavily criticized by other pathologists involved in the autopsy, who argued that the musician’s cause of death should have been attributed to a toxic combination of pharmaceuticals.
The entire findings of the autopsy were sealed after the procedure, and multiple attempts were made over the years to unseal the documents.
A 1993 reopening of the investigation into Elvis’s death managed to obtain the physician’s notes, but not the autopsy itself, released. Despite his official cause of death being listed as a coronary issue, it is widely believed that his passing was a consequence of his prolonged and serious substance abuse.
Elvis Presley, also referred to as “The King of Rock and Roll,” was a legendary American popular singer and one of the most influential performers in the rock music industry from the mid-1950s until his death in 1977.
He was born in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi, and grew up in poverty. As a teenager, he moved to Memphis, where he began collaborating with producer Sam Phillips at Sun Records, a local blues label.
He, along with guitarist Scotty Moore, and bassist Bill Black, recorded several weeks’ worth of sessions, which led to the creation of the genre for which he would become famous: a fusion of blues, country, Tin Pan Alley ballads, and gospel hymns.
Presley acquired knowledge of this music from various sources, including the radio, his parents’ Pentecostal church, the group sings he attended at the Rev. H.W. Brewster’s Black Memphis church, and the Beale Street blues clubs he began visiting as a teenager.
He combined these influences to develop a new style of music that would go on to revolutionize the music industry and solidify his place in history as one of the greatest performers of all time.