Radio listeners expressed shock 40 years ago on the Tuesday afternoon when their favorite stations broke into regular programming with news that 42 year old Elvis Presley had died unexpectedly, of “respiratory problems” or “a heart attack.”
Television networks broke in to bring the news as thousands began flocking to Memphis where Elvis lived and died in his Graceland mansion. The phone company in Memphis reported that their system was overloaded.
Later, the family opened the house to fans to allow more than 20,000 Elvis admirers to view his body lying in state.
Through the years it was learned that Elvis suffered a heart attack sitting on his toilet in Graceland, was taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital where staff attempted to resuscitate him, and failing that, was declared dead at 3:16pm. The autopsy performed that afternoon found ten prescription medications in his system, no illicit drugs and no alcohol, though that information didn’t come out for years. At 350 pounds, Elvis was largely bedridden and in poor health.
This year record crowds are expected to pass through Memphis and his final resting place in a garden at Graceland. Activities, concerts, performances, special tours and lots of souvenirs to choose from are keeping fans busy.