Elvis Presley died in August 1977. He was only 42 years old. Historian Sally Hedel, who wrote the book "Elvis: Destined to Die Young" (Elvis: Destined to Die Young), tried to understand the reasons for such an early departure, according to The Guardian.
The main idea of the writer is that Presley was not at all a drug addict and a victim of a rock and roll lifestyle. He was destined to die young, because due to unfortunate genes, he had many chronic diseases from birth. It was the inheritance of the maternal grandparents who were cousins. The entire family of Presley's mother, including herself and her three brothers, died young. Gladys Presley lived 46 years old, took the same medications as her son, and, like him, had very poor health for the last four years.
Yes, in recent years, Elvis ate only junk food, became very fat and suffered from diseases of nine out of twelve body systems. But even in childhood, he was not in good health - he had at least five chronic diseases since birth. According to Sally Hedel, this fact should humanize the figure of Presley, who is too mythologized. “Elvis is not perceived as a person, but as an image, the embodiment of a rock and roll hero who died in his bathroom from taking too many pills”, - says Hedel. - But this is both imprecise and too simplistic in relation to the musician who changed the cultural landscape. Elvis was a sick man who hid his ill health to perform and provide for his family".
According to the writer, for many years the authors of the literature about Presley have greatly distorted his image for the sake of sensationalism, and it is time to revise it. For example, the closely related marriage of his ancestors is often interpreted in a negative way, but in those days it was commonplace. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were also cousins - although they got married to keep the family wealthy, and Elvis' grandparents were more likely out of poverty and lack of other options.
Among the singer's diseases that were caused by genetic causes are alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, which affects the lungs and liver; colon problems; immunodeficiency and the insomnia that accompanied him all his life. “He had a lot of health problems, but he hid them so well that he only remembered mountains of pills,” says Hedel. "The question is why he took them."
Presley's early death is often blamed on his personal doctor, George Nicopoulos, who prescribed prescriptions for him. “A controversial figure,” says Hedel. - From my research it follows that he always tried to help Elvis, but the line between professional and friendly help gradually blurred. One of the reasons Elvis turned to medication was the constant pain. At times he was forced to abuse pills to become Elvis Presley again. "
The singer was forced to work hard and the need to feed many people. Together with him, ten relatives constantly lived in the Graceland estate, and besides them there was a group of musicians and the "Memphis mafia" - a kind of courtiers. When Elvis returned to touring in the 1970s, he supported over 100 people.
In short, according to Sally Hedel, Presley was by no means a drug addict looking for an escape from reality in pills: “It is generally accepted that Elvis's life is a story of destruction. In fact, it is a futile struggle for survival - first in spite of poverty, then in spite of health problems. Staying Elvis was incredibly difficult: no one had ever achieved such fame before. He dealt with it as best he could".