Elvis Presley’s gruesome death details – on 9,000 pills and riddled with constipation

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He was the King of Rock and Roll – and today Elvis Presley would have been celebrating his 85th birthday.

The iconic singer had millions of fans around the world and every single one of them grieved the loss of their idol when he died aged just 42.

In a career that began when he was still a teenager, the star from Memphis Tennessee could still pull in the crowds in the months leading up to his death.

First finding fame thanks to his film star good looks and incredible voice, Elvis also conquered the movie world, starring in a string of hit films.

But it was his singing he was most adored for – packing out stadiums with his sell-out tours and his records soaring to the top of the charts throughout his career.

Elvis would have been celebrating his 85th birthday
(Image: Getty Images)

Then the world was left in mourning when The King was found dead in his bathroom on August 16, 1977, after he collapsed on the toilet.

So how did the snake-hipped star, who insisted on serving in the army despite his superstar status, become a grossly overweight and seriously ill man by his early 40s.

The gruesome details of his death almost 43 years ago have long sparked conspiracy theories as to what killed The King.

Elvis’ health problems had started long before that August day in 1977.

As early as 1973, the year he divorced his first wife Priscilla, his health was already failing.

Elvis’ film star good looks earned him millions of fans
(Image: Redferns)

Elvis spent three days in a coma in a hotel room after overdosing on barbiturates.

It was the second time in less than a year that he had overdosed.

But this was just the start of his problems.

By the end of the year, Elvis had to be rushed to hospital in a semi-comatose state while he was suffering from the impact of a pain killer addiction.

His intense touring schedule was blamed for Elvis’ increasing dependance on the drugs and several appearances were marred by his failing health.

Elvis first found fame when he was a teenager
(Image: Bettmann Archive)

Three years before his death, Tony Brown, a keyboardist who played with The King, recalls his falling out of a limosine when he arrived for a show at the University of Maryland.

Guitarist John Wilkinson added: “It was obvious there was something terribly wrong with his body.

“It was so bad the words to the songs were barely intelligible. I remember crying, he could barely get through the introductions.”

His band were by now so worried about him that they were urging him to cancel the tour and take a year out to recover.

But Elvis was playing to sell-out crowds every night and refused to let his fans down – the tour continued.

The King insisted on serving in the military
(Image: Corbis via Getty Images)

By 1975, even recording in the studio was a struggle for Elvis and in a desperate attempt to keep him working his record company, RCA, set up a studio at his home.

Elvis was determined to keep working and recorded the equivalent of six albums during this time – although few made it into the charts.

A new girlfriend was on the scene by 1976, Ginger Alden, and Elvis asked her to marry him just two months afer they met.

But gone was the slim boy who had captured the hearts of millions of women.

Elvis was now grossly overweight at 25 stone.

He had been plagued by health problems in later life
(Image: Michael Ochs Archives)

His health, by the summer of 1977, had now virtually collapsed.

Bedbound and forced to rely on nursing care almost all the time, internally things were getting much worse for The King.

His heart had swelled to almost twice its normal size and his post-mortem revealed he was in advanced stages of cardiovasuclar disease,

Despite never having smoked, his lungs were riddled with emphysema, which will have made it almost impossible for him to breathe.

His bowel contained the most gruesome discovery of all – it was almost twice the length it should have been and was filled with stool at least four months old.

Elvis had suffered two overdoses before he died
(Image: Michael Ochs Archives)

The first post-mortem recorded Elvis’ cause of death as cardiac arrest and the medical examiner, Dr Jerry Francisco, insisted “drugs had played no part in Presley’s death”.

But questions about what had killed The King remained and the autopsy was eventually re-opened in 1994.

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In the seven months leading up to his death, Elvis was prescribed almost 9,000 pills, vials and injections.

His supply of drugs included uppers, downers and painkillers so strong they were usually given to patients in the end stages of cancer.

Despite the second post-mortem insisting drugs had played no part in Elvis’ death, questions still remain as to what exactly killed The King of Rock and Roll.

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