Elvis Presley’s Final Words On Stage Were A Haunting Broken Promise


Elvis Presley was at once a picture of unending energy and persistent health complications right until the very eve of his death. In life, he suffered from hypertension and an impacted or enlarged colon and needed hospitalization four times in five years to address these conditions. Still, he performed, and Presley’s final words on stage became especially poignant knowing that concluded his very last concert.

Presley was just 42 years old when he died on August 16, 1977. The initial autopsy report attributed his death to cardiac arrhythmia, ruling that drugs had not been involved. The situation was quickly deemed more complicated than that and involved a cocktail of drugs in his system just months after his final fateful concert on June 26.


Elvis Presley’s final words were bittersweet months before his passing

Elvis Presley’s final words promised of an unseen tomorrow / Everett Collection

Presley maintained a rigorous and peculiar schedule; he would fall asleep in the early morning and awake to begin his “day” at night. But rest did not come easy and the King of Rock and Roll often turned to drugs to both force himself to rest and feel energized enough to continue his life of a pop culture icon.


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His final concert in June was held at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. He played as usual, although even this felt meaningful even without hindsight. For years leading up to this performance, Presley had been feeling fatigued, the consequence of his lifestyle choices. But that night, he appeared more energized than ever. Audiences were treated to “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” All was normal. All was thrilling.

So, when he bid the audience a final farewell with “We’ll meet you again. God bless, adios,” attendees could have easily believed it. But that promised reunion was shattered later that summer.

On the stage and off the stage

Presley put his body through a lot of stress / Everett Collection

On the night of Presley’s final concert, he stepped out in front of the audience at 10 pm to grand fanfare, although he had been due out an hour and a half earlier. His closing song that night was “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You,” and then it was over – forever.

Presley maintained a very demanding schedule / Everett Collection

Behind the scenes, Presley’s body was failing him. The book Elvis Presley: A Southern Life details that between January 1 of ’77, until his death, “Dr. Nichopoulos had written prescriptions for him for at least 8,805 pills, tablets, vials, and injectables.” Among these were painkillers like Quaalude, Percodan, Demerol, Dilaudid, and cocaine hydrochloride “in quantities more appropriate for those terminally ill with cancer.” He was also known to use barbiturates, Valium, antihistamines, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and hormones.

A toxicology report, weeks after his death, revealed that Presley had had Percodan, Demerol, Quaaludes, Dilaudid, and codeine in his system when he died.

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