How did Elvis Presley die? Well, just as there are rumors about Mama Cass and the chicken bone, Elvis’s death has been debated and disputed perhaps more than any other celebrity.
Elvis was, obviously, quite a popular entertainer. Die-hard Elvis fans still exist today, even forty years after his death. So how did Elvis Presley die? What’s the official report? Read on to find out more about the King of Rock and Roll.
Elvis Presley: The Early Years
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past four decades, you’ve heard of Elvis. This man was born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi. He was marked as an “average” student, but it was early on that he impressed his teachers in other ways.
In 1941, Elvis Presley entered the first grade. Each morning, schools in that time held prayer time. It was during prayer time that Presley impressed his talent upon his teachers. He’d sung a rendition of Old Shep, and his teacher was so taken aback that she encouraged him to enter a singing contest.
As luck would have it, Elvis Presley only placed fifth in the competition, but his parents were not discouraged. They gave him a guitar for his 11th birthday, much to his disappointment. However, he did practice, and before long was bringing his guitar to school.
He was too shy to sing in front of others, but Elvis did watch others as they played guitar, and gradually improved, himself. It wasn’t until 1946 that Elvis began to sing in a more public setting. He’d recently moved, and changed schools; he would still bring his guitar to school and play and sing at lunchtime. His peers weren’t impressed. They called him trashy, and Presley was a bit of a loner. But he was a huge fan of radio station WELO, and by 12 years old, Elvis secured a spot on the station. This was his first public performance.
Elvis Presley as a Teenager
It would be an understatement to say that Elvis Presley didn’t come from money. As a result, he frequently moved from one public housing unit to another. Still, he carried his guitar to school with him each day.
As late on as the 8th grade, Presley was only earning average marks in school. In fact, he got a C in music class. His teacher told him that he didn’t have musical aptitude, and that he wasn’t a good singer. Elvis, in an attempt to refute, sang Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers Off Me for his teacher. She was still not impressed.
Presley remained undeterred, and in high school began to cultivate the appearance which he was later known for. He grew out his sideburns and styled his hair with Vaseline. He’d eye flashy clothing in the windows of shops, and began to enter a few singing competitions.
Elvis Presley’s roots in music are planted firmly in gospel. Growing up in largely African-American communities, he would frequent both white and black gospel events. He also sang with these groups, and this is where he had most of his practice.
It wasn’t until the mid 1950s that Presley was invited to sign with RCA. He’d been touring with a trio and had little success. But at the Country Disc Jockey Convention of 1955, Presley was named the most promising male singer. Where Presley had previously been singing ballads, he had begun to develop the unique approach to music and stage craft that we know him for today.
Elvis Presley’s Later Years
His first record was released in 1956, and the popularity of the King of Rock and Roll skyrocketed. As time went on, he fine-tuned his personal style, adding an “edge” to even the most mundane of recordings. As you’re aware, he also fine-tuned his performance style, which wasn’t always a hit. The young people loved Elvis Presley, but even Ed Sullivan deemed his form as unfit for family viewing.
The controversial style Presley adopted made him fueled his popularity. His audiences loved him, and his song, You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog invariably incited a riot. However, instability sometimes accompanies fame, and Elvis Presley began to feel the stresses of the public life.
He married wife Priscilla Presley in 1967, and daughter Lisa Marie was born nine months later. But family life proved to be nearly impossible for both, and they separated in 1972. Presley had, throughout his life, taken a deeply anti-drug stance, but the pressures of fame caused him to succumb to substance abuse.
Instead of using street drugs, Elvis Presley abused prescription drugs. On several occasions, he overdosed on barbiturates, sometimes entering into a coma following the abuse. His behavior became increasingly erratic and aggressive, and his health began to deteriorate.
So how did Elvis Presley die? He was frequently strung out on drugs, and many people close to him encouraged him to take time off. At one point, he fell out of a limousine, and at other times he would perform with slurred speech, barely able to hold himself upright.
Drugs were taking their toll on Presley, and some say that he had become a “grotesque caricature” of his former self. In 1977, Presley performed in Louisiana for less than an hour, but was impossible to understand. Yet he continued touring.
How Did Elvis Presley Die?
Toward the end of his life, Elvis Presley suffered many ailments. Most were caused by the lasting side effects of his drug abuse. He had high blood pressure and glaucoma. He had an enlarged colon and liver damage. And he suffered from heart conditions and brain damage due to falls, trauma and drug overdose.
On August 16, 1977, Elvis Presley was found by Ginger Alden, his girlfriend. He had been sitting on the toilet, and for some reason experienced pain. His body appeared to be frozen in a seated position, fallen forward onto the floor. Elvis Presley was pronounced dead at 3:30 PM on August 16, 1977. The cause of death was determined to be heart attack caused by prescription drugs.