“Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century,” the renowned composer and also conductor Leonard Bernstein told a reporter from TIME in the so late 1960s. When the reporter prodded, skeptical, about the cultural influence of other legendary artists favor Picasso, Bernstein merely reiterated, "No, it’s Elvis."

More 보다 40 year"s after the iconic performer"s death—with 108 Billboard hot 100 hits, 129 charted albums, and 67 cumulative weeks in ~ the top of the charts top top his record—it"s a emotion that remains hard to argue with. Here, we"re acquisition a look in ~ the tragic circumstances that significant an untimely end for the music icon.

When walk Elvis die?

Born in Tupelo, Mississippi top top January 8, 1935, Elvis Aron Presley would become one of the many recognizable musician in the world by the moment he passed away in his Memphis mansion, Graceland, on respectable 16, 1977, in ~ the age of 42.

That afternoon the singer was found by his girlfriend, Ginger Alden, lied unconscious top top the floor of the grasp suite bathroom. Elvis was quickly taken through ambulance come the Baptist Memorial Hospital and, after attempts to revive that failed, was pronounced dead at 3:30 pm.

What brought about his death?

Though Elvis"s actual reason of death shows up to have been love failure, the cardiac event is now thought about to be a result of the absent star"s longstanding and also serious drug abuse.

Like numerous performers at the time, Elvis to be a hefty user of a variety of prescription medications including opiates, barbiturates, and sedatives. As soon as the toxicology report the the performer"s blood came earlier from analysis several weeks after his death, that reportedly had high dosage of, among other things, the opiates Dilaudid, Percodan, and also Demerol, and also Quaaludes and codeine.

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In the years following his death, Elvis" Memphis physician, Dr. George Nichopoulos aka "Dr. Nick" to be implicated in the singer"s death. In 1980, Nichopoulos, who began treating the star in 1967, had his medical license rely by the state of Tennessee for three months for indiscriminately prescribing and also dispensing managed substances. Follow to the charges, in the critical 20 month of Elvis"s life, the star to be prescribed end 12,000 pills and other pharmaceuticals and also carried 3 suitcases of the drugs with him once he traveled (Nichopoulos argued that these drugs were because that the usage of Elvis"s whole entourage, together an explanation for the volume).

Nichopoulos later testified the he gave Elvis any type of medications the requested due to the fact that if he didn"t the star would certainly simply get them from another prescriber, or perhaps turn come street drugs.

In November that 1981, Nichopoulos to be charged v 11 felony counts the overprescribing drugs, but was acquitted. He maintained his clinical license until 1995 when it to be permanently exposed by the Tennessee board of clinical Examiners.


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Why is over there controversy around Elvis"s death?

While Elvis"s drug use (a characteristics he common with numerous famous performers the the era consisting of Johnny Cash and also fellow Dr. Nichopoulos patience Jerry Lee Lewis) is typical knowledge today, at the time of his death, Elvis, his family, and also his team had actually largely controlled to store the more sordid details the his life private.

Immediately complying with the singer"s passing, his family requested a personal autopsy to determine the cause of death. Tennessee’s Chief clinical Examiner Jerry Francisco exit the star"s official death certificate a few days later, listing the reason as a coronary problem unrelated come drugs. “Elvis Presley died of heart disease, and prescription drugs discovered in his blood were not a contributing factor,” Francisco called American clinical News at the time. “Had these drugs not been there, that still would have died.”


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Several of the other pathologists affiliated in the autopsy would go on to slam Francisco"s methods (he was apparently favoring the family"s privacy through his announcement) and also conclusion. Lot of doctors involved reportedly said that the musician"s reason of fatality should have been attributed come a toxic combination of pharmaceuticals.

With the autopsy inquiry coming directly from the family members rather than at the state"s behest, the complete findings to be sealed after ~ the procedure. Lot of attempts were made over the year to obtain the papers unsealed, with a 1993 reopening the the investigation into Elvis"s death getting the physician"s notes, but not the autopsy itself, released.


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Coincidentally Ballantine books published a tell-all book, Elvis: What Happened? through Steve Dunleavy, consisting of stories from three of Elvis"s previous body guards, simply over 2 weeks prior to the star"s death. The book debuted with tiny fanfare and also only ended up being well-known once journalists and the public began denigrating Dunleavy, a former tabloid reporter, over his allegations about Elvis"s medicine use and also carousing.

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It wasn"t until practically two years after Elvis"s fatality that the possibility of drug connection started to it is in seriously reported.


Lauren HubbardWriterLauren hubbard is a freelance writer and Town & country contributor that covers beauty, shopping, entertainment, travel, house decor, wine, and cocktails.
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