WTF: Death of The King

Emily Cosgrove | May 2017

For my first installment of WTF, there was one specific person that I wanted to write about: the one, the only, the KING—Elvis Presley! I’ve had a love for Elvis from a really young age. In fact, looking back, I think my love for Elvis is what initially got me into music. WI was a little girl I owned all of his movies on VHS and would make my dad burn me copies of his greatest hits CDs (remember the days of burning CDs?!).

Elvis is such an iconic character who defined an era and changed music indefinitely. Naturally, there are BOUND to be tons of myths, rumors, and legends about him. I cannot possibly fit all of them into one article, but I am going to retell and (attempt to) debunk two of them, both surrounding his death.

First of all, how and why did Elvis die? A pretty popular rumor that has been circling around for ages is that he died on the toilet. I remember hearing this as a little kid. Of course I thought it was weird and borderline silly. Until writing this piece, I hadn’t actually thought much about the validity of this rumor, so I decided to delve into it.

Almost all sources agree on one key fact: on August 16th, 1977, Elvis Presley suddenly fell to the bathroom floor in his mansion, known as Graceland. He was pronounced dead later in the day after he was brought to a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. On his death certificate, it was declared he died from a heart attack.

The “dying on the toilet” rumor is easy to debunk--it most likely just came from the fact that Elvis dropped to the floor in his bathroom. But exactly gave him the heart attack that left him dead on the floor?

According to an article about celebrities and substance abuse from the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, a toxicology report was ran after his death which revealed that he had 14 drugs in his system, many of which were in a toxic amount (most notably codeine, which was at ten times the regular therapeutic level).

This fact alone, without question, makes it obvious that Elvis’s death was most likely from a drug overdose. Was it accidental? It’s hard to say. It was no secret that in the last few years of his life, Elvis was not in the best physical or mental state. His poor health paired with a decline in his career undoubtedly had some affect on his well-being.

I am not going to speculate on whether his death was accidental or not. Either way, we lost an iconic figure who changed entertainment forever--but the strange thing is that the story doesn’t simply end there.

There are many people who believe that Elvis never died at all. The people who hold this belief swear that Elvis faked his own death and is in hiding. I know that most of you are probably thinking “wtf?!” (get it? haha). But really: why would a man who seemingly had it all—wealth, fame, an established career—end it so abruptly, just to go out in hiding, to never be heard from again?

It does sound strange at first, but hear me out. As we already discussed, Elvis’s career was declining. He was in poor health and was not getting very much praise--at least as not as much as he used to. He was sort of…a has-been. In the last few years of his life, popular music had changed a lot. Disco, glam rock, and early-iterations of garage and punk rock were starting to take over. Nobody really cared about his version of rock and roll.

Another thing is that fame really catches up with people. Of course, celebrities live luxurious lifestyles, but from all the celebrity biographies I read and shows I watch, I assume that it does get old after a while. It starts to wear down on a person.

I am not saying whether I believe Elvis faked his own death or not--I’ll leave that up to you to decide. But I do want to provide you with some awesome eyewitness accounts from people who believe that Elvis is still alive.

Many of these people not only believe he is still walking the earth, but they believe they have seen him. That’s right: an Elvis sighting. Just like a Sasquatch or Loch Ness Monster sighting, except with a supposedly deceased famous singer. Totally normal.

There are so many accounts it is actually insane. In fact, the official website of Graceland actually has a whole section dedicated to Elvis sightings. If you search YouTube, you will find hundreds of videos of supposed “Elvis sightings”. There is even an organization called the Elvis Sighting Society.

I don’t want to bore you with a million accounts; most of them are pretty much the same. A person (usually in a remote, small town) spots someone who looks like Elvis, said-Elvis notices he is being watched, and then makes a suspicious exit. Some of these sightings are on film, and some are just eyewitness reports.

I do want to leave you with a link to what is arguably the cheesiest-yet-most-entertaining portrayal of an Elvis Presley sighting I have ever seen. It is from a 1992 television show called Live Special: The Elvis Conspiracy. It features a lot of low-quality, questionable Elvis sightings, and it is a must-watch! (here is the link to the first part here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3rlV1x-MDw).

Now, do I believe Elvis is still around, hiding from the limelight under a different name? I’m not so sure. But at the end of the day, I think it would be pretty badass for him to just peace out and make everyone question it for years to come.

In the end, no matter what happened to Elvis, he is an iconic figure that I appreciate immensely. He had a life that most of us could never dream of having, and he is a legend who deserves the utmost respect.

Sources used:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2760168/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/garry-rodgers/elvis-presleys-death-what_1_b_9157820.html