He is ‘the King’ of Rock and Roll… The best-selling musician of all time… Sparking the fire of the modern music, giving inspiration to the millions with his extraordinary clothes and unique dances, he is a true phenomenon. 35 years have passed after the death of Elvis Presley, who was one of the most important figures of the 20th century, but his fans still can’t accept the death of ‘the king’.
The following words taken from the last press conference of Elvis before his death, reveals how a mood ‘the King’ was in:
I hope I haven’t bored you…
Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1935, in a small and a modest house which they had lost after his father was jailed for dud cheque when Elvis was just 1 year old. Elvis, who was an active and extrovert child, wasn’t pleased at all when he saw the guitar as a gift from his mother for his 11th birthday. Elvis would absolutely have preferred a bicycle or a toy rifle.
Elvis, who was influenced of the chapels and the complex structure of the city where he was living, began to be interested in a different country music genre (which would be called Rockabilly later on) inspired by rhythmic church choirs. He made his first recording at the Sun Recording Studios in 1953. The question of the studio employee of “Who do you sound like?” has been recorded as the first indications of a genius who was going to revolutionize the music world: “I don’t sound like nobody.”
His genuine, easygoing style and natural moves on the stage have made the Rock and Roll the most popular music genre of the world and made Elvis one of the biggest stars of his time. The title ‘the King of the Rock and Roll’ which was associated with him almost in the first years of his career has never been commemorated with anyone. The days of Sun Records and Heartbreak Hotel has dropped behind in a short time. The rise of the King had started to grab the attentions of many people who wanted to provide commercial earnings and primarily the managers. A range of musical cinema movies which obtained considerable sums at the box-office, were completely the result of these commercial pressures and concerns. Unfortunately, except watching the King, those movies are so bad productions to be called as comical. Commercial concerns and increasing pressure caused Elvis to meet the drugs.
Elvis, who began to use barbiturates and stimulants to keep his energy level, increased the dose thoroughly in the 1960s. When the famous people using marijuana and LSD were almost met normally, Elvis preferred prescription drugs. The physical fall he experienced by means of the effects of drugs reflected to his music. Elvis Presley, who started his career as an athletic, staggering and bouncy star, became an over weighted, emotionless singer giving stereotypical concerts to the ordinary audience in Las Vegas. There was almost nothing left from the stage performances of the King of the Rock and Roll which have brought him into prominence worldwide. Elvis used to complete his concerts mostly by sitting next to his piano because it was difficult for him to stand. The drug addiction of Elvis had reached to an uncontrollable dimension in 1970s. Before the death of the King in 1977, more than 10,000 prescriptions written by the King’s doctor George Nichopoulos in only 8 months was laying bare the severity of the situation. Later on, Nichopoulos explained that he had tried to trick Elvis with placebos in that period.
Elvis divorced with his wife, Priscillia Presley, in 1973, only 6 years after their marriage in 1967. As told by his friends, the status of Presley had been getting worse and worse in the year of the divorcement. The King went through two important drug crisises, one of which caused him to stay in coma for 3 days in ‘73.
When it was 1977, Elvis had gained pretty much weight. He was suffering glaucoma, high blood pressure, liver damage and an enlarged colon. He lost his life on 16 August 1977 at his home in Graceland. His girlfriend, who was with him at his home when he died, said that Elvis entered the bathroom ‘to read’ and didn’t come out again. The King’s answer to Alden who warned him not to fall asleep in the bathroom was, “Okay, I won’t”.