Elvis Presley’s secret tragic life – drugs, family heartbreak and obesity issues

January 8 marks what would have been Elvis Presley 's 86th birthday after the King of Rock 'n' Roll died tragically on August 16, 1977,

The music icon was found dead on his toilet, when he was just 42.

It shocked the entire world to its core, leaving many completely surprised.

But what his fans didn't know at the time, was the Blue Suede Shoes singer had been suffering from a longstanding addiction to prescription drugs, it has been claimed.

He famously went from being one of the best-selling artists in the world with women chasing him, to a 25-stone man, who had nurses looking after him 24/7.

So, what happened to Elvis? Daily Star Online has taken a look back at his life, 43 years after his death.

His mother's tragic death

The star's first heartbreak was when his beloved mother Gladys Love Smith Presley died.

She died on August 14, 1958, at the age of 46 and it's said Elvis was never the same ever again as he was incredibly close to his mum and they shared a strong bond.

Her death came as Elvis was first starting to star in movies, make record sales and many TV programmes.

In August 1958, Gladys became so ill that she was hospitalised in Memphis Tennessee.

Vernon Elvis Presley, Elvis' dad, rang Elvis (who was in the army at the time) had to tell Elvis to fly into Memphis and rush to the hospital to be with his mum.

Elvis said he knelt beside Gladys and told her: "Momma it's me….everything is going to be all right satnin," which was a nickname he called her lovingly.

He stayed with her for hours upon end until finally Vernon told Elvis to go sleep at Graceland and if anything happened he would call.

Shortly thereafter Elvis received a call telling him Gladys health had taken a turn for the worse.

Soon after Elvis' arrival Gladys died and he mourned her for the remainder of his life.

Opiate addiction

He was the King of Rock and Roll with fans across the globe, but for an unknown reason he turned to abusing prescription drugs.

His battle with drug abuse was recalled in harrowing detail by his ex-partner Linda Thompson, in her 2016 autobiography A Little Thing Called Life: On Loving Elvis Presley, Bruce Jenner, and Songs in Between.

The now 70-year-old, who was just 22 years old when she met Elvis, who was 15 years older than her, dated him for just over four years.

They dated from 1972 to 1976, back when she was a beauty pageant winner, and was crowned Miss Tennessee.

In her book, she says that while she will always remember their time together very fondly, there were also bad times.

Linda revealed it was Elvis' daughter who rang her to say her dad had died when she was only nine years old.

She wrote: "I stood there, catatonic, gazing at the receiver. He's smothered in the carpet , repeatedly raced through my stinging mind. Those gravity-filled words sank my heart with the reality that Elvis Presley was in all probability dead.

"On too many occasions to count, during my years of loving and caring for him, I had found and attended to him in deathly compromising circumstances like the one Lisa had just described."

Linda recalled how on more than one occasion she saved his life due to his drug addiction.

She explained that little was known about prescription medication at the time, and said that Elvis truly believed he could not be harmed by taking the drugs.

Linda wrote: "I didn't even know that people abused prescription drugs.

"Having lived with him for more than a month, I knew he had to take sleeping pills to go to sleep, and something else to wake him up, as well as oftentimes something to pep him up to go onstage."

Linda and Elvis split in November 1976, less than a year before his death the following August.

Elvis Presley's death

His untimely death isn't just tragic because he was a globally beloved rockstar, loved by millions, but also because of the harrowing circumstances surrounding his death, which some people still cruelly mock to this day.

Elvis was found dead on a toilet on August 16, 1977, when he was just 42 – it was also reported that he collapsed and fell off the toilet.

By his early forties, he had gone from insisting he be allowed to stay in the army despite being a global star to an overweight and seriously ill man.

It's reported his drug abuse began taking effect on him as early as 1973, the year he divorced his first wife Priscilla Presley.

He spent three days in a coma in a hotel room after overdosing on barbiturates, which was the second time in less than a year he had overdosed.

By the summer of 1977, he had virtually collapsed, weighed 25 stone and was bed-bound relying on nurses' care.

In his inquest, it was revealed his heart had swelled to almost twice its normal size and his post-mortem revealed he was in advanced stages of cardiovascular disease.

Although he had never smoked, his lungs were riddled with emphysema, which will have made it almost impossible for him to breathe, it was claimed in his inquest.

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.

However, 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.

The second inquest also insisted that no drugs had played a part in his death, but fans have remained questioning it to this day.

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