Rock lost its first superstar
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