What Was Elvis Presley's Last Day Like?

King of Rock n Roll Elvis Presley

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Elvis Presley, the king of rock 'n' roll, ended up a prisoner of his own success. Manager Col. Parker scripted every move of his career (sometimes good, many times bad—see those later movies for evidence). Elvis couldn't go out during the day because he would have been mobbed at every turn, so he slept all day and partied all night, leading to a cycle of sleeping pills and amphetamines—and dependence on those pills and others, including narcotic pain medication. During his Las Vegas years, he had two concerts a night and used the pills to get him "up" for the show and come back down afterward.

Elvis was surrounded by "yes men" placating him and not looking out for his best interests—though, on the flipside, if anyone said "no" to him, that person was ejected from his inner circle. And when you've got staff to cook anything you want to eat at any time of day, well, that doesn't bode well for the waistline or overall physical health either, unfortunately.

His last day was marked with toothache pain, leading to taking too many pills and his death in his bathroom overnight. He was only 42 years old.

Tuesday, August 16, 1977

12 midnight: After his 10:30 p.m. dentist's appointment is completed, Elvis and girlfriend Ginger Alden return to Graceland.

2:15 a.m.: Elvis calls his doctor to request more painkillers, ostensibly because of pain engendered by the dentist trip. Elvis' stepbrother Ricky Stanley drives to the all-night pharmacy at Baptist Memorial Hospital and returns with six Dilaudid pills.

4 a.m.: Elvis wakes up first cousin Billy Smith and his wife, Jo, to request they play a game of racquetball with him. Presley, as usual, plays the game while barely moving and playfully attempts to hit Billy with the ball. In doing so, Elvis manages to hit himself with his racquet, bruising his leg. The game is called off.

4:30 a.m.: Elvis moves to a nearby piano and performs two unidentified gospel numbers and "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain."

5 a.m.: Elvis decides to turn in early (for him), going up to his bedroom with Ginger. He takes one of the prepackaged packets of pills created by his doctor for twice-daily use.

7 a.m.: Elvis takes a second pack of pills.

8 a.m.: Still unable to sleep, Elvis asks for a third packet, which is brought to him by his aunt, Delta Mae Biggs.

9:30 a.m.: Elvis takes the book he's been reading, Frank Adams' "The Scientific Search for the Face of Jesus," and goes into his bathroom. "Don't fall asleep in there," Ginger says, knowing his propensity to nod off. "OK, I won't," he says. She goes back to sleep.

1:30 p.m.: Ginger awakens and sees Elvis is still gone. When knocking on the bathroom door produces no reply, she enters and finds his lifeless body on the floor in front of the toilet. She screams for Elvis associates Al Strada and Joe Esposito, who arrive and call the fire department. An ambulance is dispatched. Daughter Lisa Marie and father Vernon arrive in the bathroom, but Lisa Marie is quickly removed from the scene.

2:56 p.m.: Elvis Presley arrives at the Baptist Medical Center in Memphis.

3 p.m.: Elvis is pronounced dead.

4 p.m.: On the steps of Graceland, heartbroken father Vernon Presley tells the assembled reporters: "My son is dead."

The news stunned the nation—and the world—as it came across radio and TV stations, interrupting whatever programming was on at the time. He was the first rock superstar and an icon and now was gone.