In the early hours of August 16, 1977, Elvis Presley and his girlfriend Ginger Alden invited his cousin Billy Smith and his wife Jo to join them for a game of racquetball at his state of the art Graceland court. The King and his Memphis Mafia inner circle enjoyed a few games before he played Unchained Melody on the piano in the sports centre. As dawn approached he headed to bed in his private haven upstairs at Graceland with his last lover.
Elvis was set to fly out of Memphis to begin another tour and was reportedly very excited about the opportunity. However, it was never meant to be.
Having been in bed with Ginger, The King decided to use the bathroom and took a book to read as he suffered from constipation.
Around lunchtime, the singer succumbed to a fatal heart attack and collapsed on the floor dead. He was just 42.
According to Ginger, who found his corpse: “Elvis looked as if his entire body had completely frozen in a seated position while using the toilet and then had fallen forward, in that fixed position, directly in front of it… It was clear that, from the time whatever hit him to the moment he had landed on the floor, Elvis hadn’t moved.”
As for what book Elvis was reading the moment that he died, it was A Scientific Search for the Face of Jesus by Frank O Adams.
The King had been fascinated with religion and spirituality and would spend hours discussing books on such topics with the likes of Billy and Jo on his bed.
This one, in particular, had been published in 1972 and focused on the Shroud of Turin, which some people believe to be the burial fabric that Jesus Christ was wrapped in after his crucifixion.
First mentioned in 1354, the shroud features the negative image of a man with stigmata in his wrists.
According to Graceland archivist Angie Marchese, it’s as though Elvis just got up and left.
It’s part of her job to maintain The King’s private area, which is not open to the public out of respect for the singer.
It turns out the last record he played is still on the record player and it’s a fresh recording of JD Sumner and the Stamps.
Sumner was an American gospel singer and ended up singing with his group at Elvis’ funeral on August 18, 1977.