How did Elvis Presley die? A look inside the rock legend's death and health.

Elvis Presley has become synonymous with many things, such as rock 'n' roll and fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

However, another part of the legacy of the "King of Rock 'n' Roll" is his untimely death. Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, on Jan. 8, 1935, and died in Memphis, Tennessee, on Aug. 16, 1977.

Since the June 2022 release of Baz Luhrmann's "Elvis," starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks, discourse surrounding Presley's life and death has become all shook up. This biographical musical drama chronicles the rock legend's rise to stardom, marriage to Priscilla Presley and overall legacy.

Here is what you need to know about Elvis' death, declining health and other aspects of his life.

Since the June 2022 release of Baz Luhrmann's "Elvis," starring Austin Butler (pictured) and Tom Hanks, discourse surrounding Presley's life and death has become all shook up.
Since the June 2022 release of Baz Luhrmann's "Elvis," starring Austin Butler (pictured) and Tom Hanks, discourse surrounding Presley's life and death has become all shook up.

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How did Elvis die?

Elvis Presley died at 42 years old on Aug. 16, 1977, in Memphis, Tennessee.  His untimely death was mourned by fans as many made their way to Graceland, his mansion in Memphis, to pay respects.

Presley was found unresponsive at Graceland. His then-fiance Ginger Alden found Presley lying unconscious on the floor of the master suite bathroom, according to PBS. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:30 p.m.

Preliminary autopsy findings determined Presley's death was the result of a "cardiac arrhythmia" and that drugs were not involved, said PBS. However, this was later proved not to be the complete case.

In a toxicology report, weeks after his death, Elvis' blood was found to have had extremely high levels of the opiates Dilaudid, Percodan, Demerol and codeine, as well as Quaaludes.

Tributes are seen beside the grave marker for Elvis Presley in the Meditation Garden where he's buried alongside his parents and grandmother at his Graceland mansion in this file photo from  August 12, 2017.
Tributes are seen beside the grave marker for Elvis Presley in the Meditation Garden where he's buried alongside his parents and grandmother at his Graceland mansion in this file photo from August 12, 2017.

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Elvis' health problems, explained

Prior to his death, Presley was visually no longer the hip-swaying “Elvis the Pelvis” sex symbol. One of the first responders who arrived at Graceland after the emergency call on the day Elvis died and helped carry him to the ambulance was quoted in the book "Elvis Presley: A Southern Life" saying he "must have weighed 250 pounds," according to Salon.

Weight was not his only issue.

The book, according to an excerpt in Salon, said it later was "established in court that during the seven and a half months preceding Elvis’s death, from January 1, 1977, to August 16, 1977, Dr. Nichopoulos had written prescriptions for him for at least 8,805 pills, tablets, vials, and injectables. ...  The drugs included uppers, downers, and powerful painkillers such as Dilaudid, Quaalude, Percodan, Demerol, and cocaine hydrochloride in quantities more appropriate for those terminally ill with cancer."

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Elvis was know to be a prodigious eater. Some of the many interesting and caloric meals he consumed over the years included, the Fool’s Gold Loaf, which was "made with a jar’s worth of blueberry jam, a jar’s worth of peanut butter and an entire pound of bacon," and peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

This infamous sandwich would be made with an entire stick of melted butter, as shown by Mary Jenkins, former cook at Graceland, during a 1987 appearance on "Letterman." 

On top of his eating habits, Presley was a long-time user of opiates, said PBS. He had been known to use "antihistamines, tranquilizers such as Valium, barbiturates, Quaaludes, sleeping pills, hormones — and laxatives, for the constipation."

PBS reported that at the time of Presley's death two pathologists "found evidence of severe and chronic constipation, diabetes and glaucoma." The painkillers Presley used are believed to have contributed to his severe constipation.

The book, "Elvis Presley: A Southern Life," also reported that the autopsy "confirmed what his doctors already knew: Elvis was chronically ill with diabetes, glaucoma, and constipation."

How old would Elvis be today?

If Presley were alive today, he would be 87 as of August 2022.

He was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, on Jan. 8, 1935. His twin brother Jessie was stillborn, said biography.com.

Elvis grew up in a loving family with not much money. Despite his introverted personality, Presley had immense musical talent. At 10 years old, he placed fifth in the 1945 Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show for a solo performance without musical accompaniment, said biography.com.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How did Elvis Presley die? Presley's health problems, explained.