When Elvis Presley shot to fame in 1956, he was a slim, handsome young man in his early twenties. Even when he made his music comeback over a decade later, he was in great shape. But by the time of his death in 1977, The King was bloated and in poor health.
On August 16, 1977, Elvis died of a heart attack on the toilet in his upstairs bathroom at Graceland.
Over the years his premature death has been blamed on his prescription drug abuse, but what’s the truth?
Danny Smith, the son of the star’s cousin Billy, lived at Graceland with The King and was recently asked in a fan Q&A: “Did Elvis have health problems or was this made up?”
Speaking on his Memphis Mafia Kid YouTube channel, he said: “I mean Elvis was human and was a person. Sure he had problems.”
Danny continued: “He had, I know a twisted colon and glaucoma and probably other things that I probably didn’t even know about.
“But, y’know we all do. Eventually sooner or later if we’re lucky enough to get older. That wasn’t made up. He did have problems.
“I will say this though, even with his problems…you look at his last concert and there wasn’t a stronger or more beautiful voice in this whole wide world.”
It’s true that if you look at concert footage from June 26, 1977 in Indiana, Elvis doesn’t look in the best shape and struggles with his breath at moments but his vocals were certainly there until the end.
Sally said: “I’ve always been an Elvis fan and I’ve always had those questions like why does he turn to the prescription medication? Why does he die in such a similar way to [his mother] Gladys at a similar age?”
“I felt like there had to be a correlation there because they weren’t both taking the same prescription medication and why does he have all these really geriatric diseases very young in life with glaucoma, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and different things like that?”
From her research, she found his maternal grandparents were first cousins and that three of Elvis’ uncles died of heart, kidney and liver issues in their forties and early fifties.
She concluded: “The Elvis of 1957 was just as sick as the Elvis of 1977; it’s just fans couldn’t tell yet.”