On This Day: Elvis Presley Died in 1977

by Alex Falls

On this day 45 years ago, the entertainment world was dealt a huge blow when the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, was found dead in his home of Graceland. He was 42 years old.

Even at such an early age, Elvis had already left behind a music career that might not ever be matched. Having sold over 400 million records worldwide, Presley is recognized as the best-selling solo music artist of all time by Guinness World Records. He won three Grammy Awards, plus the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at the age of just 36. Not to mention just about every musical Hall of Fame in existence.

Elvis’s work transcended many musical genres. Including pop, country, rhythm & blues, adult contemporary, and gospel. He even holds records for the most RIAA-certified gold and platinum albums, plus the most albums ever to chart on the US Billboard charts. In 2018, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Indeed the King had one of the most illustrious careers in all of music. But it was tragically cut short when he was found dead in his Graceland estate just days before he was set to go on tour. He passed away due to complications from heart disease brought on by a life of drug habits and unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Celebrating the Life of Elvis

Even more than four decades since his passing, Elvis is still remembered fondly by his fans and the entire music world. As part of the anniversary of his passing, this week is celebrated as Elvis Week. The annual memorial takes place at his Graceland estate.

The memorial included a panel of Elvis’s friends and family sharing memories of their time with the King. Barbara Eden shared the screen with Elvis in the film Flaming Star. She called Elvis a “fabulous natural actor.”

“He enjoyed doing a serious part,” Eden said. “I think he could have done so much more. So much more. His talent was huge. It wasn’t just music. He was a good, good actor — when he had a good script… He was so human. Quite often in our field you meet people that don’t let you see what they really are. But he did. He was very open and sincere about everything.”

Musician Pat Boone also appeared at Graceland to discuss his friendship/professional rivalry with Elvis.

“We were two boys from Tennessee, me from Nashville and him from Memphis… who knew we were extremely lucky,” Boone said. “Things were happening beyond anything we could have expected… But I so appreciated him and his talent. We all underestimated him in the beginning. We thought he would be a flash in the pan.”

The panel also discussed the recent film based on Elvis’s life, Baz Lurhumann’s Elvis. The biopic was hugely acclaimed when it was released from fans and the people who Elvis himself. Elvis’s widow, Priscilla Presley, said the film was “great” and “touching” as a tribute to her late husband.

“I don’t know of one [other] director or producer who could have done it,” Priscilla said of the film. “I love Baz, he’s just so great.”