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Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:05 am

A recent topic on FECC debates that, in the '70s, no one cared about Elvis' growing dependency on prescription drugs. But the historical record indicates something else entirely.

It shows at least five trips to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, between 1973 and 1977, all of which were publicly downplayed, but secretly intended to deal with Presley's personal health crisis.

June 1973
October 15 - November 01, 1973
(17)
January 28 - February 13, 1975 (17)
August 21 - September 05, 1975 (16)
April 01 - April 05, 1977 (5)

For example, at the fall 1981 felony trial of Dr. George Nichopoulos, Elvis' primary personal doctor since 1967, internal medicine specialist Dr. Alvin Cummins detailed three different stays at Baptist Memorial Hospital:



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Meriden Record-Journal - Saturday, October 24, 1981



A 1975 news report on Presley's August 1975 hospitalization ("no cause for alarm") also cited a visit in June 1973 for "pleurisy" (an inflammation of the lining of the lungs and chest (pleura) that leads to chest pain when you take a breath or cough):



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Montreal Gazette - Saturday, August 23, 1975



After a cancelled gig in Baton Rouge on Thursday evening, March 31, 1977, done with the entire crowd already seated, Elvis checked into Baptist yet again to deal with his addiction (and avoid any lawsuits for breach of contract):



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Waycross Journal-Herald - Friday, April 1, 1977



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Ocala Star-Banner - Tuesday and Wednesday, April 5 and 6, 1977
Note: Vernon updates the press two days running.
In reality, Elvis actually "discharged himself" and asked cousin Billy Smith come pick him up and take him to Graceland.




Working to arrange all of these visits, for better or worse, was Dr. Nichopoulos. Most know the mistakes he made, personally and professionally, but surely one must also admit he cared about his patient, as evidenced by these repeated examples of professional intervention.

Some other people close to him during these times, like Linda Thompson, Billy and Jo Smith, Sheila Ryan, Red West, Jerry Schilling, Delbert West, Alicia Kerwin, Sam Thompson, Al Strada, Ginger Alden, even his father, Vernon, clearly must have also felt compassion and concern.

Perhaps, given the sad events of Tuesday, August 16, 1977, what we may conclude is that the person who really needed to care simply could not. Or would not.



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Leaving the Omni in Atlanta - Tuesday, July 3, 1973



Life is beautiful, but it is never perfect. Count your blessings, and listen to your friends.
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Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Thu Oct 17, 2013 8:02 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:11 am

Interesting read thanks John for posting the articles. I just wish Parker would've tried to step in somehow but I guess with Elvis spending himself into the ground there wasn't much options left. Or perhaps Paker felt it was too late and that Elvis wasn't going too listen to anyone?

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:26 am

Nice post, John.
Sadly it took until 1981 to truly reveal the reasons behind Elvis' hospital visits... if Elvis only had a little more time, perhaps he could have figured out what he was doing to himself and his career... it was not to be.

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:57 am

53 days hospitalized in 75 nearly 2 months. Simply an out of control addict by that point. All covered up-hard to believe that the local press didn't know. And no wonder the doctors concluded he was a recidivist addict after trying to dry him out. Thanks for the post.

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:58 am

Elvis's face looks so slim and young on this picture. Like a candid shot from 1969. The background is more blue than black, but his hair is only black. Are you sure that this picture is not a montage?

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:01 am

Winston wrote:Elvis's face looks so slim and young on this picture. Like a candid shot from 1969. The background is more blue than black, but his hair is only black. Are you sure that this picture is not a montage?


It's a candid taken as his limousine left the Omni, following his last tour show of 1973.

The look on his face captures the feeling intended for this topic, and it's a true favorite.

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:11 am

Thank you so much for posting this, Doc.

But although he's pretty slim Elvis really looks completely burnt out on that picture. So sad to look at.

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:07 pm

Doc, thank you very much. The most enigmatic visit I think was in June 1973, Peter Guralnick wrote in Careless Love that Elvis nearly overdosed in St.Louis on that June tour, but other details he didn't specified. Maybe this was not true because Elvis never cancelled one show in this summer tour, like he cancelled in February 1973 in Vegas and in May 1973 in Tahoe

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:31 pm

Great info, Doc. Thank you for your efforts. I'm not surprised Elvis made that many trips to the hospital, but I didn't realize he'd spent that many days there. Very interesting.....

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:55 pm

Thanks Doc.

Really brought home how desperate the situation became at times from 1973 onward. Reading the articles, you'd expect them to have been written about a man in his eighties. Not someone who was just 38.

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 4:30 pm

All of which again illustrates that despite the popular common opinion, those around Elvis did try to help him. It's another commonly held view that Linda Thompson would have saved him that fateful morning, but she had already done so more than once. She left because she couldn't deal with his addiction any longer. Red West was unceremoniously dismissed because he confronted not just Elvis but those supplying him. Even then he didn't give up on his friend, and Elvis What Happened was the result.
Despite all those hospital visits, Linda Thompson, Red West, Vernon, even possibly Priscilla and the Colonel to an unknown degree and probably countless others, Elvis still died. He couldn't help himself, and the only wonder is that it didn't
happen sooner.
Good post Doc.

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 4:34 pm

:( so sad
thanks for the information

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 5:56 pm

Nice topic, thanks Doc. Personally, i think the only person that could've stepped up and put his foot down really hard about this situation is Col. Parker...he's the only one who had the power to do so. He knew all about the drugs, he may not have discussed it with Elvis, but he certainly knew about it. Elvis' erratic behaviour on stage, near overdoses, hospitalizations, he knew what was going on. He could have said to Elvis, "look, there will be no more touring, no more records, no more money coming in unless you sort yourself out". Had he of said this and meant it, Elvis wouldn't have known where to go, he was damned without Colonel. In my view, all this puts the Col in a bad light...weather he was interested in Elvis as a person, i don't know, but it seems he wasn't, thats how it comes across.

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 5:57 pm

Good information and a good article, Doc. Thank you.

Elvis was a true addict but addiction is an illness. The patient needs to be treated as such. If i am not mistaken i read somewhere that Elvis once visited a psychiatrist. But he didn't like that approach.
There were many occasions where Elvis had a chance to get help. But he was truly addicted... truly an illness.
So in my view he deserves our empathy instead of the constant knocking down and trashing. Would you like to be trashed and treated rudely if you are sick?

That does not mean one can not watch at Elvis critically. Just put yourself in his shoes.

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:09 pm

Doc, in August-September 1975 Elvis was in Baptist Memorial Hospital from August 21 to September 5,a total of 15 days. I wish he stayed many longer to fully recover.

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:12 pm

mysterytrainrideson wrote:Nice topic, thanks Doc. Personally, i think the only person that could've stepped up and put his foot down really hard about this situation is Col. Parker...he's the only one who had the power to do so. He knew all about the drugs, he may not have discussed it with Elvis, but he certainly knew about it. Elvis' erratic behaviour on stage, near overdoses, hospitalizations, he knew what was going on. He could have said to Elvis, "look, there will be no more touring, no more records, no more money coming in unless you sort yourself out". Had he of said this and meant it, Elvis wouldn't have known where to go, he was damned without Colonel. In my view, all this puts the Col in a bad light...weather he was interested in Elvis as a person, i don't know, but it seems he wasn't, thats how it comes across.


I agree that col had the cloud to make this happen. However, Elvis was a difficult and stubborn client when he wanted to be. I think that the col preferred a dead client, give the new contracts that were signed in 1973.

Also, controlling the supply of the pills would give the col total control of Elvis.

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:37 pm

Interesting post, thanks for putting it together.

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:50 pm

June 1973 it is clear Elvis has drugs problems and goes into the hospital.
Then it takes his friends over 3 years (and being fired) to decide they want to "help him" by writing an exposé!?

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:51 pm

jurasic1968 wrote:Doc, in August-September 1975 Elvis was in Baptist Memorial Hospital from August 21 to September 5,a total of 15 days. I wish he stayed many longer to fully recover.


Thanks. The 1981 article clearly mistyped the end date, as we have photos of him tooling around Memphis in a three-wheeled motorcycle from the second week of September 1975.

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:01 pm

If you look at some of the pictures of Elvis and Parker duringthe early 70's tours you can see real affection. The one that sticks is Elvis playfully grabbing Parners hat from the stage in LA in 70. But Parker became an unrepentent gambler who shackeled Elvis to Vegas and lost all moral authority with Elvis. They both tolerated wach others addictions. Parker ould hardly breach morality as he was conflicted by his own problem. That Elvis new about Parker's problem and continued to play Vegas etc says a lot about Elvis' personal loyalty. I don' t believe Elvis was frightened by Parker's money demand, just think there was too much history to walk away. Besides as Doc's post shows it was already too late.

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:20 pm

Thanks for the post, it's sad that Elvis didn't care about himself!

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:54 pm

It's a shame there wasn't something like the Betty Ford Center in the 1970s. (The Betty Ford Center was not established until 1982.) The 1970s were a terrible time to be pharmaceutical drug addict. Betty Ford saved a lot of people because she reduced the stigma of getting treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.

One can only wonder what would have happened had Elvis gotten treatment for his addictions. Would he have regained his Adonis-like looks? Would he have regained his magnificent voice? Would he have regained his creative drive?

Winston wrote:Elvis's face looks so slim and young on this picture. Like a candid shot from 1969.


I think the same thing every time I see that picture. Especially when you consider how awful and puffy he looked the previous month. I think it's an especially flattering angle for him.

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:46 pm

jurasic1968 wrote:Doc, in August-September 1975 Elvis was in Baptist Memorial Hospital from August 21 to September 5,a total of 15 days. I wish he stayed many longer to fully recover.

Strange... that Fall in 1975 was the longest layoff he had since 1971 (just over 3 months including his time in hospital and not performing) and yet it didn't have the same positive effect his hospital stays in the Fall of 1973 or the one in early '75 had on him. He came out of both of those much more clear headed with stronger live and studio performances... conversely, his Vegas engagement in Dec '75 was run of the mill at best and his performance at Pontiac was forgettable.

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:03 pm

Unfortunately, the shortest stay ot Elvis in hospital was in April 1977, when he should stay maybe 2 month to recover. Priscilla in his book "Elvis and Me" wrote that she hardly recognized Elvis in his sad shape when she visited him with Lisa Marie in April 1977 in Memphis. 4 years earlier in October 9 1973 she was also shocked how bloated Elvis was and how dramatically he was changed in a year and a half since she didn't saw him-I wonder if she saw Aloha from Hawaii- if this is true she saw a very changed (in worse) Elvis in 8 month.

Re: Those Who Cared --> Elvis' "Secret" Hospital Visits

Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:52 am

yaso wrote:Thanks for the post, it's sad that Elvis didn't care about himself!


According to Linda Elvis confessed to her that he was self destructive. Sadly, the topic was never brought up again.

It must have been terrible being Vernon during this time. Elvis was increasingly reckless and was spending money like there is no tomorrow.

Elvis was the alpha male of the pack. Unfortunately, he did not listen to the caring comments from those around him. The fact that he was hospitalized as many times as he was should have been THE red flag.

It's been said before there was no Betty Ford clinic and that is a shame.

He was self destructive and even when he made efforts to dry out, they only worked temporarily.

He knew what was happening and that must have been torture.