Today marks the 79th birthday of Elvis Aron Presley. Elvis is a common household name in the world of music. Everyone who has heard the name Elvis can immediately shout out their favorite tune of his!
Now, everyone knows the story of where Elvis was born, raised and how he came about as a American music legend. Elvis is still to this day; the most talked about musical icon and is an international sensation. His sound and style uniquely has captured the hearts of fans young and old. Elvis combined his diverse musical influences which challenged the social and racial barriers of the time, he ushered in a whole new era of American music and popular culture.
On stage as a performer, his voice just melted the souls of women, making them faint and fall in love to his swinging hips, curling lip, piercing blue eyes and soft jet black hair. The King was that one performer that could entrance his fans just merely by his pure genuine realness. Compared to today's artists, no one can sell out four straight shows in Madison Square Garden, forget the lyrics to his own song or do karate moves on stage, busting his costume and still end the night with a standing ovation.
Elvis starred in 33 successful films. He believed at the time, his films were falling into the same monotonous pattern. He felt the scripts he was handed, discouraged his acting career. However, as we all look back on his acting career and watch these treasured films of his, it is obvious that Elvis was being too hard on himself. For us, his movies are a way of getting close to knowing him, or seeing him live in action. Especially if you were not born in the era of Elvis to experience him first hand at a concert or see him live on a television show.
Although Elvis was loved so dearly by his fans (and still is today), he suffered phobias of being alone and anxiety of thinking he did not please his fans to his full potential. He was always found surrounded by his posse of usual suspects who were later nicknamed "The Memphis Mafia".
Elvis was a very generous man. If he wasn't kissing babies and women in the crowds, he was buying Cadillac’s for friends and strangers. He once stated, "If I end up bankrupt, I can at least open a used car lot and sell off all my cars!" He was notorious for buying multiple homes, but also buying homes for friends, family members and anyone who ran in his close circle.
Elvis was never one for the fame and glory that came along with his international success. It was the fortune he desired for his mother and father. The hard life and poor upbringing made him the generous person he was. When one goes without for so long, you fill that void with extravagant, materialistic items to fill that hole of want that you never had and longed for-for so long. Elvis' story was truly one of rags to riches overnight.
However, Elvis struggled with privacy. All the man wanted --was to be left alone, desiring to walk the streets normally after his stardom struck. He couldn't go to a movie without being hounded by his fans. He couldn't sit in a restaurant and enjoy an evening out with friends without the flocks of women attacking him physically in a way that scratched and tore him up. He was considered a sexual rock god. (I even have to admit, he’s quite the eye candy!)
Having a poor sleep and work schedule disturbed his sleep and wake patterns. He would perform in the evening leaving him awake all night. As a result, he was not able to sleep on a normal schedule; he turned to amphetamines to stay awake and downers to sleep all day long. Elvis believed, because it was all given to him by prescription and ordered by a doctor that it was alright for him to consume. Amphetamines are very addictive. He became so addicted it was even rumored that he took liquid cocaine, disguised in a Coca Cola cup as a drink to give him a jump on stage to stay awake and coat his throat. At one point he was popping over 20 different types of prescription pills to cope. He even purchased a brand new Lincoln, drove it to his doctor's office and sweetened the deal for more prescriptions with his doctor by handing him the keys.
It was reported that Elvis supposedly did not drink any alcohol. But, the drugs fueled his paranoia and made him go into a deeper seclusion. For ten years, and after three different stents in detox, he hid on the grounds of Graceland. He finally made his comeback in 1968 performing a television special live on NBC. He was in the best shape of his life, he was alert and smiling. He appeared happy and just when things started to look up for Elvis, his prescription drug habit and adulterous ways caught up to him. After 28 years together and six of them married, Priscilla divorced him. Elvis returned to the scripts on a heavier level, Elvis tried to state he was "Strung out on Life", but in all reality, he was strung out on drugs. His song "Separate Ways" somberly chronicles his separation and divorce to Priscilla and his love for Lisa Marie, their only child together.
Now, on to the good stuff...
The last days of Elvis' life, the conspiracies and The untold stories of his "Retirement"
"A lonely life ends on Elvis Presley Boulevard" was the headlines that day Elvis died. Or did he really die? When a survey was conducted on a local newscast website, fans were asked if they believed if Elvis was alive or dead. Close to 70% of fans believe Elvis is still alive. That's a lot of fans that truly believe he is still out there, living in retirement, hiding away, finally enjoying his privacy and seclusion.
Many of his fans have said, "How could this be? Could it be possible that he actually never died?" If you are a fan of Elvis, the theories have crossed your mind. But one would have to see the signs that led up to his death and early retirement.
In 1977, after Priscilla filed for divorce, Elvis went downhill. A lot of people (fans) have generally pointed fingers at Priscilla for his death. Insiders close to Elvis have said that he felt so much heartache after she left, that's when he turned the notch up on his choice of drugs. By this time, he was taking three doses a day of Quaalude, Amphetamines, Liquid Valium, Codeine, Demerol, Dilaudid and was completely out of control with his eating habits. The beautiful King was close to 100 lbs. over weight. (At the time of his death, it was estimated he weighed over 255 lbs and it took nine men to carry his coffin)
On June 26 1977, Elvis took stage in Indianapolis, Indiana. Elvis Presley's last concert was held at the Market Square Arena for a sold out crowd of 18,000. He sang his heart out, sweating bullets the entire concert.
Although Elvis appeared pale, weak, and overweight, as he had with increasing regularity, there was nothing to suggest his impending death -- indeed, there was nothing unusual about this show on the tour, except that Elvis for some reason introduced practically everyone from his life on stage that night. Elvis even brought his Father on the stage and according to some it was like Elvis saying goodbye. Some take this as "proof" Elvis knew he was in his final days; others maintain that he was worried about the imminent publication of Elvis: What Happened?, a tell-all biography by former bodyguards Sonny and Red West that publicly broke the story of his drug abuse, and what those revelations might do to his image.
Footage of the final concert (aka “The Final Curtain”) was taken but has not been widely seen; the audio portion can be heard on the LP "The Last Farewell" (released on CD as Adios: The Final Performance, A.J. Records CD 92-2002 and also on Youtube). The last recording Elvis made was a vocal overdub on "He'll Have To Go" done on October 31, 1976 in the "Jungle Room" at his home at Graceland.
The last song Elvis performed in private was a rendition of "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," done on his piano in Graceland hours before his death.
For those of you that are not sure how Elvis exactly died, drugs were a factor in the incident. Elvis was a hearty eater. All the foods your doctor tells you to stay away from because they cause heart disease ...those were Elvis' favorites. Fried Chicken, Fried Peanut butter and banana sandwiches (made like a grilled cheese but with those ingredients instead)--he loved everything fried, and bacon. Oh good God did he love bacon! So you get the idea, he was overweight and burned out on drugs. Well, his cholesterol was probably through the roof. His arteries were clogged up from all the fried Southern cooking.
How Elvis' lifeless body was found
It's reported that on August 15th 1977, A hot and humid August day- he restlessly slept until late in the afternoon. When he awoke at 4pm, he ate his usual breakfast that consisted of a pound of bacon and an omelet. He spent a good majority of the day with Lisa Marie and tried to get a private showing of the Star Wars Film for them to see together. Those close to him reported he wasn't feeling well. He kept sweating profusely and seemed on edge. So he tucked Lisa Marie into bed and returned to his room. (Lisa Marie would never see her daddy alive again.)
Elvis was given the drug Codeine the night before from his dentist. At 12.30 am he had a heart to heart with Ginger about their wedding. Elvis’s maid recalls a commotion upstairs. Approximately two hours later he instructed a friend to take Lisa Marie back to her Mother‘s home. She was never taken home to Priscilla. (Why would he put his daughter to bed, and then request to have her taken back to her mom? Did he know he wasn't feeling well?) He also spoke to his security chief (Dick Grob) about the upcoming concert. Elvis asked his doctor on the phone for even more drugs. At 4 am, he went to play racket ball with friends. He rode his bike then played the piano, unchained melody and Blue Eyes in the rain. At 7 am, his cousin Billy Smith saw Elvis and washed Elvis’s hair as he vented his frustrations about life and business. At 7:30 am, Billy Smith left Graceland and Elvis' step brother Ricky Stanley took Elvis something to help him sleep. Then at 8:30 am his Auntie took him the morning paper with a glass of water and a third lot of drugs. By now Elvis' blood stream was swimming with drugs.
On the afternoon of August 16, 1977, Elvis told his girlfriend (Ginger Alden) that he couldn't sleep so he was going to go into his bathroom to sit, read and watch TV. Elvis had a barber chair in his bathroom. He liked to sit in there. He never returned to bed, his lifeless body was discovered at 2 pm. Ginger Alden walked in to the bathroom when she discovered he wasn't lying next to her in bed and found him lying on the floor. At first she thought he had hit his head, she was trying to turn him and couldn't move him or get him to 'wake' up, she then told the maid to get help and that's when Joe Esposito (his close friend and part of the Memphis Mafia) rolled him over. Once he got him on his back, he discovered Elvis was grey, his tongue was black and he was lifeless. Unknowingly, Lisa Marie was behind them when they turned Elvis on his back. An ambulance was called. The Paramedic sped off and at 3pm wheeled him into a room. A team worked on him. They tried everything but it was in vain and he was pronounced dead at 3.30pm at the age of 42. They prepped Elvis for his funeral and Elvis' body was returned to Graceland for his viewing and services.
The official cause of death was a cardiac arrhythmia, (an abnormal rate of muscle contractions in the heart- Heart Attack)-which people thought was a valid cause of death because of the drugs and eating habits.
August 17, Vernon Presley announced that the public would be able to pay their respects. From the hours of 3-6:30 pm, over 20.000 people lined up to pass by his copper lined coffin and another 50.000 were left waiting in line when the gates had closed. Close to 80,000 people lined the side walk to watch the funeral procession which contained sixteen beautiful white limousines.
Memphis police saluted the white motorcade and kept the public at bay. At 4:24 pm, on August 18, 1977, Elvis was buried at Forest Hill Cemetery. Due to fears of his body being stolen, his body was exhumed and would be returned to Graceland, where he was finally buried in the Memorial Gardens behind his home next to his mother.
Conspiracies surrounding his death surfaced immediately after his death because of a photo that was taken at Elvis' funeral services by Jerry Schilling who sold it to the National Enquirer. Gene Smith (Elvis' cousin), saw Elvis in the coffin, reported (scroll to 6:36)-that the person in the coffin was NOT Elvis. It's been said that Elvis faked his own death for privacy and health reasons. On January 1, 1978, a photograph of Elvis was taken at Graceland by Michael Joseph. As he was snooping around Graceland, (this was months after Elvis' reported death but years before Graceland was open to the public in 1982) he was taking random photographs of the grounds of Graceland. When he later processed the photos at a Kodak shop, he was looking through them and discovered a person (resembling Elvis) sitting in a chair looking out towards the pool. The Kodak shop that processed the film sent Michael Joseph a certified letter stating the image had not been tampered with or double exposed. Joe Esposito tried to cover it up by stating it was Al Strada. Al Strada does NOT look like Elvis.
A movie called "Elvis Found Alive" surfaced in 2012. The movie documents the storyline of why Elvis faked his death. In the movie, Elvis is hiding under the alias name "Jon Burrows" and the guy who finds "Elvis" interviews him to tell the world the "truth" about why he faked his death and went into hiding/retirement. The man who plays Elvis in the documentary is not Elvis, but theorists suspect that Elvis is the only one who could have supplied the information for the movie.
In 1979, Gerardo Rivera was with 20/20 and devoted an hour to the conspiracy of his death. If 20/20 thinks there was a cover up, don't you all think it could be possible that Elvis is hiding? In 2011, Fox 8 news' Suzanne Stratford went miles to hunt down the DNA evidence that stated Elvis was still alive and a doctor was treating him as a man named "Jesse". Jesse was the name of Elvis' deceased twin brother who was stillborn.
Out of all the interviews out there accessible by the World Wide Web, you will discover that there is not one interview with Priscilla or Lisa Marie Presley showing any sort of sadness over the loss of a dear husband and father. In other words, if your husband or dad died, no matter the time frame, if someone asked you about your favorite memories or stories of your deceased loved one, wouldn't you find yourself holding back tears or choking up just a bit?
In an interview with Lisa Marie Presley on Larry King Live, he asks her if "She ever feels her dad near her or channels him around her?" She completely avoids the question. From a personal standpoint, no matter what your religious background is, whether you believe in 'spirits' or not, everyone at one point in their life unknowingly 'channels' their deceased loved ones simply by thinking about them while doing something that reminds them of that person. For example, when I am in my own kitchen, cooking up some kind of spicy Italian dish, I 'channel' my great grandmother! I even talk to her as if she is there! "Okay Nonna! I'm not sure what goes in this dish, but if you are there, and watching me make an ass of myself, don't laugh, just help me put the right spices in so I don't poison myself making this sauce!" (Yes, I am laughing because I do it quite often and anyone who doesn't do this at one time or another is a liar). So my point is, if Elvis was dead, and Lisa Marie has nothing to hide, why no emotion, why avoid a simple question? Why is that so controversial to answer and just say yes? How hard is it for her to say..."One time I smelled my dad's Brut while I was walking through the hallways at Graceland and it made me smile to know he's around me"... You be the judge... Do you think Elvis could have faked his death or do you think he truly died?
Elvis, if you are out there reading this, we all hope you are enjoying your 79th birthday with your family and friends.
To be Continued in May 2014...