Q: What do you do if you are a floundering rock star and you want to be immortalized into an icon?
Elvis Presley had shot to fame in the late fifties with hit songs like “Hound Dog” and “All Shook Up,” which sent teenage girls howling at the pelvis-shaking wonder and made him the third-bestselling recording artist of all time. But twenty years later his star was fading — as fast as his dependency on painkillers, uppers, and depressants was rising. And then, in 1977, his fiancée Ginger Alden found the 44-year-old King of Rock ‘n’ Roll lying in a pool of his own vomit on the bathroom floor of his Memphis mansion, Graceland. He died of heart failure, thought to be related to drug use.
A former member of his backup band recalled how bad off the King had become shortly before his death: “He walked onstage [at a concert] and held on to the mike for the first thirty minutes like it was a post. Everybody was scared.”
It’s conceivable that Elvis could have made a comeback, but his shocking sudden death — followed by conspiracy theories and Elvis “sightings” that continue to this day — helped to secure his position as one of rock’s immortal icons.