Skip to comments.Aug 16, 1977: Elvis Presley dies
Posted on 08/16/2012 6:31:15 AM PDT by BO Stinkss
Popular music icon Elvis Presley dies in Memphis, Tennessee. He was 42. The death of the "King of Rock and Roll" brought legions of mourning fans to Graceland, his mansion in Memphis. Doctors said he died of a heart attack, likely brought on by his addiction to prescription barbiturates.
Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, on January 8, 1935. His twin brother, Jesse, died during the birth. Elvis grew up dirt-poor in Tupelo and Memphis and found work as a truck driver after high school. When he was 19, he walked into a Memphis recording studio and paid $4 to record a few songs as a present to his mother. Sam Philips, the owner of the studio, was intrigued by the rough, soulful quality of his voice and invited Presley back to practice with some local musicians. After Philips heard Elvis sing the rhythm-and-blues song "That's All Right," which Presley imbued with an accessible country-and-western flavor, he agreed to release the rendition as a single on his Sun Records label. The recording went to the top of the local charts, and Presley's career was launched.
During the next year, Elvis attracted a growing following in the South, and in 1955 Sun Records sold his contract to a major record label, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), for a record $40,000. His first record for RCA was "Heartbreak Hotel," which made him a national sensation in early 1956. He followed this up with the double-sided hit record "Hound Dog"/"Don't Be Cruel." In September 1956, Elvis appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, a national variety television show, and teenagers went into hysterics over his dynamic stage presence, good looks, and simple but catchy songs. Many parents, however, were appalled by his sexually suggestive pelvic gyrations, and by his third appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, Elvis was filmed from only the waist up.
From 1956 through 1958, Elvis dominated the music charts and ushered in the age of rock and roll, opening doors for both white and black rock artists. During this period, he starred in four successful motion pictures, all of which featured his soundtracks: Love Me Tender (1956), Jailhouse Rock (1957), Loving You (1957), and King Creole (1958).
In 1958, Presley was drafted into the U.S. Army and served an 18-month tour of duty in West Germany as a Jeep driver. Teenage girls were overcome with grief, but Elvis' manager, Colonel Tom Parker, kept American youth satiated with stockpiled recordings that Presley made before his departure. All five singles released during this period eventually became million-sellers.
After being discharged as a sergeant in 1960, Elvis underwent a style change, eschewing edgy, rhythm-and-blues-inspired material in favor of romantic, dramatic ballads such as "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" He retired from concerts to concentrate on his musical films, and he made 27 in the 1960s, including G.I. Blues (1960), Blue Hawaii (1961), Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962), Viva Las Vegas (1964), and Frankie and Johnny (1966). In 1967, he married Priscilla Beaulieu, and the couple had a daughter, Lisa Marie, in 1968.
By the end of the 1960s, rock and roll had undergone dramatic changes, and Elvis was no longer seen as relevant by American youth. A 1968 television special won back many of his fans, but hits were harder to come by. His final Top 10 entry, "Burning Love," was in 1972. Still, he maintained his sizable fortune through lucrative concert and television appearances.
By the mid 1970s, Elvis was in declining physical and mental health. He divorced his wife in 1973 and developed a dangerous dependence on prescription drugs. He was also addicted to junk food and gained considerable weight. In the last two years of his life, he made erratic stage appearances and lived nearly as a recluse. On the afternoon of August 16, 1977, he was found unconscious in his Graceland mansion and rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He was buried on the grounds of Graceland, which continues to attract fans and has been turned into a highly successful tourist attraction.
Last word was reportedly “corn?”
I was 28, living in NJ and working in NYC. I remember the minute I heard the radio broadcast that he’d died. Sad day as the news spread around Morristown. Lots of fans there.
Girl I was going with at the time mother worked at
the hospital where Elvis died.She would point to the
window of the room where he was in at the end.
It was such a sad time for so many back then,what a
voice and such a great entertainer...hated to hear
of all the drugs tho
Elvis was a kenpo black belt. He could beat many challengers, but he couldn’t beat his addictions. RIP.
Elvis - Crying In The Chapel
Elvis dead? Hush yo’ mouf!
"On 27th July 1975 Elvis set a record for himself as well as for Madison Cadillac, where he had been buying Cadillacs for twenty years. He spent $140,000 buying fourteen Cadillacs for friends, family and a stranger. Mrs Mennie L. Person a bank teller of 1868 Meadowhill was "just looking," admiring Elvis's custom made limousine when Elvis appeared and asked her if she liked it. He said "That one's mine but I'll buy you one." He escorted her to the showroom and said "Pick one out". She chose a gold and white 1975 $11,500 Eldorado."
He was hurting when he died. He wasn't happy with his life and he was becoming irrelevant career wise because of the changing world of rock music and heavy metal. If he hadn't died, I think he would have found a new niche and found a rebirth if he could have broken free of his dependencies and depression.
Elvis had way too many enablers. He was on a down path from the git go.
AND unlike Frank Sinatra(the COWARD(think Justin Beiber)) who connived his way out of WW II’s Draft, when Elvis got his draft notice, HE WENT and SERVED Honerably!
Elvis died in his bathroom at Graceland not in a hospital. He may have been pronounced at a hospital several hours later but he was dead when Ginger Alden found him on the floor.
Here in Memphis, we are in Death Week. I believe the numbers I heard for attendance at the candlelight memorial from last night were about 75,000.
I was brought up during the 50’s. I loved and still love his music and my memories of those magical days. In some ways, I still live in those days.
I miss Elvis and I pray that he is RIP.... and with his mom.
He died 15 days before I was born. My dad recalls seeing Elvis and Precilla riding a motorcycle around the I-240 loop here in Memphis. Dad also was in attendance when Elvis performed at the opening of a shopping center at Lamar & Airways in about 1954 or 1955 before Elvis became a household name. Dad was 2 or 3 at the time :)
I was there for the 25th. I think we were in line for about 6 hours. I don’t do lines, but somehow it was strangely worth it. I met a lot of good people that day, mostly Texans. The heat was killer and the drenching rainstorm was welcomed by all.
I enjoyed Memphis, loved Blues Street — the BBQ ribs were to die for, BUT I hated your humidity...hated, hated, hated that damn humidity. Overall, I loved the visit, but I sure couldn’t live there. You people have to be part fish to breath that wet air.... did I mention that I hate your humidity? ;>)
Elvis didn’t die. He just went home.
About 20 years living in Memphis now and still have not been to Graceland. If I want to celebrate his work or life, I will listen to his music or watch a movie. Graceland reeks of death and despair to me. I find it amusing that Memphis has two death celebrations a year: The King and King, Jr.
I don’t think he was ever happy with the cheesy movies he was forced into. But, the perks (like Ann Margaret) weren’t bad.
“I dont think he was ever happy with the cheesy movies he was forced into.”
I think he was happiest with Jail House Rock. I believe he did all the choreography in the jail block screen.
I understand what you mean, but I was a tourist. I went to his grave, was there for about 10 seconds and never got to visit the home.
Beale Street was my favorite fun time on that trip. But, your humidity sucks. ;>)
I still love and admire the King and often celebrate the good parts of his life.
Your post reminded me of a movie quote:
“So you were an artist! Big deal! Elvis was an artist. But that didn’t stop him from joining the service in time of war. And that’s why he’s The King, and you’re a schmuck.” - Serendipity, in “Dogma”
I guess living on the Gulf Coast steeled me for the humidity. Besides, that’s why air conditioning was invented: so you can feel good when you get out of the heat and humidity.
” When he was 19, he walked into a Memphis recording studio and paid $4 to record a few songs as a present to his mother. Sam Philips, the owner of the studio, was intrigued by the rough, soulful quality of his voice and invited Presley back to practice with some local musicians.”
Actually, when he walked into sun studios for the very first time, Sam was on the road promoting some albums he had produced. It was same secretary, Marion keisker, who was at the studio and in charge while Sam was away. Elvis recorded his songs, and Marion loved his voice so much that when Sam got back, she tried to get him to listen to Elvis’ recording, but it took her months to get him to listen.
In later years, Elvis always credited Marion for his success. Saying he wouldn’t have been where he was if it weren’t for her.
“On 27th July 1975 Elvis set a record for himself as well as for Madison Cadillac, where he had been buying Cadillacs for twenty years. He spent $140,000 buying fourteen Cadillacs for friends, family and a stranger. Mrs Mennie L. Person a bank teller of 1868 Meadowhill was “just looking,” admiring Elvis’s custom made limousine when Elvis appeared and asked her if she liked it. He said “That one’s mine but I’ll buy you one.” He escorted her to the showroom and said “Pick one out”. She chose a gold and white 1975 $11,500 Eldorado.”
Elvis was born with a very generous heart. I read somewhere that even as a poor kid during the years of the great depression, what few toys he had, he would give away to other kids.
I was in my yard running around barefoot when my Mom opened the back door and told us Elvis had died. I was 9 years old and I still remember that.
I was listening to Elvis Costello when I heard that the other guy crapped out.
Same here. Now if you tell me you heard the news from a crying disc jokey on a car radio in Phoenix, AZ then I'll officially freak out.
Elvis Is Everywhere - Mojo Nixon
Elvis’ last words were “Corn???!”
in Rome anybody of any influence is up in the mountains for “Fer’Agosto.”. The embassy had shut down early because nobody was around. I was sitting at a sidewalk cafe, Cafe de Paris, across the Via Veneto with a couple of buddies. Another pal came down and and sat at our table. This guy was the then ABC ROME Bureau Chief. He said, “you guys aren’t going to believe this: Elvis just died. We just about fell out of our chairs.
Are You Lonesome Tonight was an old song that had even been recorded by Al Jolson (including the spoken passage).
“Now if you tell me you heard the news from a crying disc jokey on a car radio in Phoenix, AZ then I’ll officially freak out.”
Close! It was a crying disc jokey on a car radio in Jacksonville Fl.