Rock lost its first su­per­star

New Straits Times - - World -

PARIS: Forty years ago, on Aug 16, 1977, “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” Elvis Presley died and rock lost its first su­per­star.

Presley was found un­con­scious at his Grace­land man­sion in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee, and de­clared dead at hos­pi­tal. He was just 42.

The cause was pro­nounced as car­diac ar­rhyth­mia. But ru­mours quickly swirled. One of his for­mer body­guards de­scribed him as drugged and para­noid in an in­ter­view recorded sev­eral hours be­fore his death.

His heavy use of opi­oids and pre­scrip­tion pills — largely un­known to his le­gions fans dur­ing his life­time — was later de­ter­mined to have played at least a role in his tragic death.

On Aug 17, tens of thou­sands of fans de­scend on Grace­land to pay homage to their idol, who had been semi-re­tired since 1972.

On the six-lane “Elvis Presley Boule­vard”, the cock­tail of emo­tion, scorch­ing heat and a stam­pede caused dozens of faint­ing fits as am­bu­lances rushed to the scene.

Many re­fused to be­lieve that Presley was dead. In the crush, a car driver ran over and killed two fans.

Fans were granted just two hours to bow over the cop­per cof­fin of the “King”.

Some, in tears, laid bou­quets of red roses be­fore Presley, dressed in a cream suit, a blue shirt and a sil­ver tie.

In Wash­ing­ton, the White House re­ceived hun­dreds of phone calls de­mand­ing a day of na­tional mourn­ing.

Then pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter de­scribed Presley as “unique and ir­re­place­able”, and “he was a sym­bol to peo­ple the world over of the vi­tal­ity, re­bel­lious­ness, and good hu­mour of his coun­try”.

Across the coun­try, record deal­ers were cleaned out.

In a sin­gle day, 250,000 copies of Presley’s last al­bum, Moody Blue, were sold. AFP

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