The music business has been hard on kings.
The King of Soul – James Brown – dead
The King of Pop – Michael Jackson – dead
The King of Rap – Tupac – dead
The King of Grunge – Kurt Cobain – dead
The King of the Blues – B.B. King – not dead yet
but at 85, it won’t be long
The King of Rock – Elvis Presley – dead
It was on this date, August 16, 1977, when the king of rock and roll died on his throne – literally. Girlfriend, Ginger Alden, found him on a bathroom floor at Graceland mansion. Paramedics rushed The King to Baptist Memorial Hospital where he was declared dead at 3:30 pm.
The seventies were not very good to Presley. After his divorce from Priscilla in 1973, his drug and alcohol intake skyrocketed. He continued to tour but battling weight gain, high blood pressure and addiction, he was increasingly incoherent and lethargic on stage. Barbiturates were taking their toll.
Still under contract with RCA and finding it nearly impossible to get Elvis in the studio, RCA sent a mobile studio to Graceland in 1976 and cobbled together two lengthy recording sessions. Even in the comfort of his Memphis retreat he struggled with the process. One of the recordings to come out of these sessions was “Way Down,” the last Elvis single to release before his death.
Presley’s funeral was held at Graceland, on Thursday, August 18. Outside the gates, a car plowed into a group of fans, killing two women and critically injuring a third. Approximately 80,000 people lined the processional route to Forest Hill Cemetery, where Presley was buried next to his mother. Within a few days, “Way Down” topped the country and UK pop charts. Following an attempt to steal the singer’s body in late August, the remains of both Elvis Presley and his mother were reburied in Graceland’s Meditation Garden on October 2.
Through the years since Elvis went on to the big jumpsuit in the sky, an odd phenomenon has invaded pop culture. Check it out at the Elvis Sighting Bulletin Board.