MEMPHIS — Elvis Presley was scheduled to perform in Portland, Maine on August 17th, 1977 to kick off a new leg of his tour — one that had taken him through much of the country already.
But the concert, and every one after that, would have to be cancelled.
One day before, on the afternoon of August 16th, Presley was found dead in the bathroom of his Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee.
He was rushed to Baptist Memorial Hospital, where attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
Within hours, the shocking news was reverberating through his worldwide fan base.
His death at 42 years old was first blamed on heart failure. But Presley, who was in both poor health and financial standing, was also reportedly abusing prescription drugs. Further investigation revealed that could have been a contributing factor to his untimely passing.
After his death, his body lay in state at Graceland. More than 20,000 people flocked to the home to pay their respects.
The thousands of mourning Presley fans who had converged on Memphis came from all over the country.
“Most of them were not wealthy and so they had to drive for long hours, over hundreds of miles, some in battered autos,” reported CBS News’ Chris Kelly. “They packed up the kids and the family dog, even left their jobs to be here.”
One family from Indiana told Kelly they were living on Social Security, and spent $300 on the trip. The cost didn’t seem to matter.
“They were all drawn to Presley in death as they had been drawn to him in life,” Kelly said.
“There will never be another one like him,” one fan said. “He’ll live in the hearts of people forever.” Another family said they drove over 16 hours to be at Graceland.
Presley was later buried in a garden behind the mansion, where he rests with his mother and father, which was left to his daughter Lisa Marie Presley along with the rest of his estate.
The circumstances surrounding Elvis’ death have unfortunately been echoed throughout the years in the deaths of other major music icons. Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and most recently, Prince, all died unexpectedly after suspected overuse of powerful drugs.
Jackson and Prince were both found in their homes, where fans also gathered for days to remember the artists whose music they felt so connected to.
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