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August 17, 2014

The Death of Elvis Presley - August 16th 1977

Elvis Presley died at Graceland on August 16, 1977. He was 42 years old.

Through the early morning of the 16th Elvis took care of last minute tour details and relaxed with family and staff. He was to fly to Portland, Maine that night and do a show there on the 17th, then continue the scheduled tour.

Elvis retired to his master suite at Graceland around 7:00 AM to rest for his evening flight. By late morning, Elvis Presley had died of heart failure.

In a matter of hours the shock registered around the world.

Paramedics were called, but they failed to revive Elvis, and he was taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital where further attempts to resuscitate him failed. He was pronounced dead by his physician, Dr. George Nichopolous, who listed the official cause of death as erratic heartbeat, or cardiac arrhythmia.

As the news of Elvis' death spread across the country, radio stations immediately began to play his records. Some stations quickly organized tributes to Elvis while others simply played his music at the request of listeners, many of whom were in a state of shock over his sudden death.

Some people called their favorite radio stations just because they wanted to tell someone their stories about the first time they'd heard Elvis sing or to talk about how much his talent and his music meant to them.

In the same way that many people remember exactly where they were when they heard President John F. Kennedy had been killed, most of Elvis' fans remember where they were the day Elvis died. Mick Fleetwood, of rock group Fleetwood Mac, recalls, 'The news came over like a ton of bricks. I was driving back from the mountains, and I had the radio on. They were playing an Elvis medley, and I thought, 'Great' --- And then they came back with the news'.

The manner in which the major television networks handled the news of Elvis' death illustrated his enormous popularity and the tremendous impact he had on America, something few realized until he was gone.

Data from the television-ratings service Arbitron revealed that on the day Elvis died, there was a huge increase in the number of televisions tuned to evening news programs.

Baptist Memorial Hospital, fans wait to hear news on Elvis Presley August 16, 1977.

A crowd pushes toward the gates of Graceland Mansion in Memphis, to view the body of Elvis Presley.

An exhausted volunteer carries a victim of the heat and confusion to a first aid station inside the gates of Graceland Mansion in Memphis, where thousands gathered for a chance to view Elvis Presley's body.

Grieving fans leave Graceland Mansion after viewing Elvis Presley body in Memphis.

Members of the Shelby County emergency squad treat some of the hundreds of fans who became ill while waiting for a chance to get a glimpse of the body of Elvis Presley at the Graceland Mansion in Memphis.

Arleen Miller, of Nebraska, breaks into a sob outside Elvis Presley's Graceland Mansion in Memphis.

A string of white Cadillacs follow the hearse carrying the body of rock 'n' roll musician Elvis Presley along Elvis Presley Boulevard on the way to Forest Hills Cemetery in Memphis, Tenn., Aug. 19, 1977.

Vernon Presley, Elvis Presley's father, places a rose on his son's grave Nov. 24, 1977, as newspeople were permitted inside the grounds at Graceland in Memphis, Tenn., for the first time since Elvis' funeral.

(via Elvis Presley Music)


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