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

More than 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 sentiment that remains difficult to controversy with. Here, we"re taking a look at the tragic situations that significant an untimely finish for the music icon.

When walk Elvis die?

Born in Tupelo, Mississippi ~ above January 8, 1935, Elvis Aron Presley would come to be one the the most recognizable musicians in the civilization by the time he passed away in his Memphis mansion, Graceland, on august 16, 1977, at the period of 42.

That afternoon the singer was found by his girlfriend, Ginger Alden, lied unconscious ~ above the floor the the understand suite bathroom. Elvis was easily taken through ambulance to the Baptist Memorial Hospital and, after attempts to revive him failed, to be pronounced dead at 3:30 pm.

What caused his death?

Though Elvis"s actual cause of death appears to have been heart failure, the cardiac incident is now taken into consideration to be a an outcome of the absent star"s longstanding and serious medicine abuse.

Like plenty of performers in ~ the time, Elvis was a heavy user the a number of prescription medications consisting of opiates, barbiturates, and also sedatives. Once the toxicology report of the performer"s blood came back from analysis several weeks ~ his death, that reportedly included high dosages of, among other things, the opiates Dilaudid, Percodan, and also Demerol, as well as 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 started treating the star in 1967, had actually his clinical license suspended by the state the Tennessee for 3 months because that indiscriminately prescribing and also dispensing regulated substances. Follow to the charges, in the critical 20 months of Elvis"s life, the star was prescribed end 12,000 pills and also other pharmaceuticals and carried three suitcases the the drugs v him when he traveled (Nichopoulos argued that this drugs were because that the use of Elvis"s entire entourage, together an explanation because that the volume).

Nichopoulos later on testified that he provided Elvis any type of medications that requested due to the fact that if the didn"t the star would simply obtain them from another prescriber, or maybe turn to street drugs.

In November the 1981, Nichopoulos was charged through 11 felony counts that overprescribing drugs, yet was acquitted. He kept his medical license till 1995 when it was permanently rely by the Tennessee board of medical Examiners.


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Why is there controversy about Elvis"s death?

While Elvis"s drug usage (a properties he shared with many famous performers the the era consisting of Johnny Cash and also fellow Dr. Nichopoulos patient Jerry Lee Lewis) is typical knowledge today, at the moment of his death, Elvis, his family, and also his team had actually largely regulated to save the more sordid details that his life private.

Immediately adhering to the singer"s passing, his family requested a private autopsy to recognize the reason of death. Tennessee’s Chief medical Examiner Jerry Francisco released the star"s official death certificate a couple of days later, listing the reason as a coronary problem unrelated to drugs. “Elvis Presley passed away of love disease, and prescription drugs uncovered in his blood were not a contributing factor,” Francisco said American clinical News in ~ the time. “Had this drugs no been there, that still would have died.”


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Several the the other pathologists affiliated in the autopsy would certainly go top top to criticize Francisco"s tactics (he was reportedly favoring the family"s privacy with his announcement) and also conclusion. Multiple doctors connected reportedly suggested that the musician"s reason of death should have actually been attributed to a toxic combination of pharmaceuticals.

With the autopsy inquiry coming directly from the family members rather 보다 at the state"s behest, the full findings to be sealed after the procedure. Lot of attempts to be made over the years to obtain the papers unsealed, through a 1993 reopening of the investigation into Elvis"s fatality getting the physician"s notes, however not the autopsy itself, released.


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Coincidentally Ballantine publications published a tell-all book, Elvis: What Happened? by Steve Dunleavy, consisting of stories from 3 of Elvis"s previous body guards, simply over 2 weeks before the star"s death. The book debuted with small fanfare and only came to be well-known once journalists and also the public began denigrating Dunleavy, a previous tabloid reporter, over his allegations around Elvis"s medicine use and also carousing.

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It wasn"t until nearly two year after Elvis"s death that the possibility of drug connection began to be 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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