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Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:36 am

Sorry if this has been asked before or seems like a silly question, I'm new here.

My question is: did Elvis take drugs to get high or only because he actually thought he needed them?

Did he have genuine (to him) reasons for all the drugs he took? Such as medical, sleeping and for staying awake in the army. Or were some of the drugs needed but he also sought out other drugs just for fun? I know he tried pot and LSD for the experience but was it the same for prescription drugs?

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:53 am

Elvis took drugs? Never knew that.

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:08 am

why do you want to know....? does it matter....?

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:17 am

Elvisgirl wrote:why do you want to know....? does it matter....?


I'm just curious about his attitude to his own drug use, especially considering how much drugs contributed to his later decline.

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:26 am

frenchrebel wrote:Sorry if this has been asked before or seems like a silly question, I'm new here.

My question is: did Elvis take drugs to get high or only because he actually thought he needed them?

It would seem Presley's early use of amphetamines in the late '50s-early '60s was meant to squeeze more out of every day, and to keep his weight down. When he moved into barbiturates, circa 1965, it was a form of self-medication, even if he didn't realize it. His issues of chronic depression came at a time when understanding of same was in its infancy, and eventually the misuse of downers began to escalate in the '70s.

Although there was sometimes a recreational use to these things, Presley in general did not go that route. Like many addicted to drugs, Elvis rationalized his pill taking since it was almost all legally prescribed to him by doctors. And if his doctors gave him the OK, he was not going to stop. Eventually, it all caught up to him.

Now that you have your answer, let's hope you move on to other topics of interest, like Elvis' magnificent artistic legacy, his groundbreaking beginnings in the '50s, his triumphant return in 1960, the stunning 1968 TV Special, and so much more.

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:00 am

Such saracism on this site (it's quite annoying most of the time)...for someone new quesitoning Elvis' drug use...what's the big deal...if I was a new Elvis fan I would have questions too...just the same as when I disovered Elvis....many years ago....

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:02 am

burninglove67 wrote:Such saracism on this site (it's quite annoying most of the time)...for someone new quesitoning Elvis' drug use...what's the big deal...if I was a new Elvis fan I would have questions too...just the same as when I disovered Elvis....many years ago....

i never questioned it...to me, things like that are not important

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:27 am

Doc's response is spot on but i believe the older he got the more recreational and then dependent he became. In addition, He was taking massive quantities of demoral and dilaudid which were synthetic morphine and heroin opiates. Chronic depression and he just liked the thrill to relieve the terminal boredom. Said differently the usual suspects for a recidivist junkie- he just possessed the means to indulge the habit longer than most and for the most part avoid street drugs. IIRC there are also reports of extensive cocaine use but i am less familiar with the truthfulness of them.

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:36 am

burninglove67 wrote:...for someone new quesitoning Elvis' drug use...what's the big deal...if I was a new Elvis fan I would have questions too...

Just to clarify... the poster didn't say anything about being a new Elvis fan...

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:53 am

fn2drive wrote:Doc's response is spot on but i believe the older he got the more recreational and then dependent he became. In addition, He was taking massive quantities of demoral and dilaudid which were synthetic morphine and heroin opiates. Chronic depression and he just liked the thrill to relieve the terminal boredom. Said differently the usual suspects for a recidivist junkie- he just possessed the means to indulge the habit longer than most and for the most part avoid street drugs. IIRC there are also reports of extensive cocaine use but i am less familiar with the truthfulness of them.


Well, I think it's the "opposite," in a way - in terms of the word "recreational," anyway. I think he dabbled in the '60s, and in the service. (And like every other country singer, he popped the then-equivalent of Red Bull on the road, but that would have led to nothing, were it not for the Army.) But to me, despite Priscilla's upset with his use of sleeping pills to knock himself out, and real problems when he went out to film "Clambake," it was "dabbling." He tried everything: LSD, pot, what have you, and he bought pills from the pharmac(ies) in L.A., directly. Something he likely learned in the service, when he boasted of his slick ability to acquire the speed, to an Army buddy named Rex Mansfield. So, to me that's "recreational."

Until about '70, late '70, I think, he was just dabbling. When O'Grady found his circulatory system suppressed early on (late 1970), this was no longer dabbling, but the shift is always hard to pinpoint - especially to the people closest. Factors may cause the shift, but it's hard to pin it down. Look at the candid photos, and they do tell a story.

It's when he got in real deep so that he was in trouble, that you can't call it "recreational." When someone is seriously addicted, they can't stop on their own, and they're not enjoying it. They may think they can stop, or try to think they can, but they're trapped. Elvis, at some point, stepped into the quicksand, and kept going down. There was a time, 1973, when you'd think he hit bottom, nearly died, and would have made it out alive. But it just didn't happen. There were dealer-docs like Elias Ghanem who kept him loaded. (The late little creepy "doctor" is very well-known in Vegas. He lived near where Conrad Murray's Vegas house was, so in 2009, when the cops descended there, people thought it maybe had something to do with the late Ghanem! He also "treated" Murray's victim. Murray was one of the first Dr. Feelgoods to get the book thrown at it him. Finally.)

If you read the various books, and all the materials generally available, it was not all "legal." Or even all by "prescription." Most, yes, but by no means, all. You will read in all the official accounts of his addiction strictly to prescription drugs, but it puts the reality at a comfortable distance. (And I'm not talking about his '60s experimentation with psychedelics, either.) A bit was just plain illegal (some was actually stolen), more was home-brewed by "doctors" (or dentists), but much of it was through the 'scripts. Some of those were forged; Lisa's name was on some, as were the names of other children. Dr. George Nichopoulos was tried for criminal overprescribing after Elvis died, in connection with his case, and others. He was acquitted. He already had his license suspended, for a while, and a pharmacist was put out of business for what he did. In the 1990s, Nick lost his licence for good.

It is really not possible to talk about the music without looking this in the face, in my view. Or maybe, we'd have had a lot more music, for one thing, and what he made in the lifetime he had, also would have been different, as well.

Greil Marcus once wrote that to approach the story, while avoiding the fact of "ruin" was not to approach the story at all, and I wholeheartedly agree with him on this count.

Just imho.

rjm

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:14 am

Elvisgirl wrote:
burninglove67 wrote:Such saracism on this site (it's quite annoying most of the time)...for someone new quesitoning Elvis' drug use...what's the big deal...if I was a new Elvis fan I would have questions too...just the same as when I disovered Elvis....many years ago....

i never questioned it...to me, things like that are not important

That is the key to your answer "TO YOU" what interest you may not interest someone else. We all have different tastes and personalities, and that may be one of the reasons we have different social security numbers, we are all different in some ways, so remember that before you post such a statement next time please.

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:16 am

As Lamar Fike once said he took drugs "..because he just fuc*ing loved em".

Plain and simple..

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:38 am

promiseland wrote:As Lamar Fike once said he took drugs "..because he just fuc*ing loved em".

Plain and simple..


I heard him say that. I think sometimes, Lamar . . . well, it was a flippant thing to say. Look, drugs DO feel good, at first. Little kids, ALL little kids (far as I know) spin themselves around, to make themselves dizzy). It's part of our make-up as humans, I guess. To alter consciousness, to feel a buzz, that feels good. But, at a certain point, I don't think an addict feels good anymore, or even loves it. Elvis said "I need it, man, I need it." Needing and "loving" are not the same thing, though perhaps they can look the same, particularly to people right close to them.

I remember the humorous story about the pot-brownies: it was pretty harmless, and it was funny. First, Elvis "fooled" the guys by spiking some brownies with pot, and serving them. Got a laugh out of their pot-giggles. Then they turned the tables, and did it to him. There were plates of different stuff, and they thought they fooled him. And he told 'em, when the plate was empty: "I'll have more of THOSE."

That's fun, and I think real different from what went on with the hard stuff. I mean, some people don't think that's okay, but they were all grownups (I hope), and it didn't hurt anyone. But that other stuff . . . how can Lamar think Elvis loved the situation? I don't know; I mean, I saw him say that, but I don't necessarily buy it.

From Paul's Candid Central:

Image

That isn't even too bad, either. It wasn't fun. (This was the show Bruce Springsteen caught, and said "it was not a good night." He went with Steven Van Zandt.)

rjm

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:07 am

promiseland wrote:As Lamar Fike once said he took drugs "..because he just fuc*ing loved em".

Plain and simple..


Lamar sure said some dumb and unnecessary things in his time. That was one of them.

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:33 pm

Elvisgirl wrote:
burninglove67 wrote:Such saracism on this site (it's quite annoying most of the time)...for someone new quesitoning Elvis' drug use...what's the big deal...if I was a new Elvis fan I would have questions too...just the same as when I disovered Elvis....many years ago....

i never questioned it...to me, things like that are not important


To you, no, but to others who could be new fans and don't want to listen to the press and media's version of Elvis' drug use and find out more reliable info about it, then we, as fans, should give them sensible answers.

The Doc is spot on with his reply to this.

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:38 pm

The Army was a key factor. Elvis begin to take Dexedrine (amphetamines) in November 1958 on Grafenwohr manouvers to stay awake on harsh conditions (the pills were given to him by a sergent) but he developed soon an adiction to them. He take them with cofee and he said to everybody how incredible energy obtained after that. in the early 60's when he was at Graceland he begin to take sleeping pills to sleep until 3 and 4 o'clock in the afternoon (Seconal, Placydil). In Hollywood he took again the uppers to be awake at 6 in the morning. In the middle 60's he begin to use Percodan or Dexamyl for the depression he fall when his career begin to decline, things that led to the march 1967 bathroom incident. After that, in 1967-1970 period he reduced the drugs, became happy and concentrated in music and he was almost clean. But, beginning with 1970 he again took more uppers to keep his weight down and downers to keep up with his frenetic Las Vegas schedule and touring. In the early 1972, depressed again and after Priscilla left him he begin to use Demerol (by injections) and Dilaudid and from now on things got worse. According to his inner circle, Elvis almost died from an overdose 2 or three times in 1973 after Aloha. Of course there were times when he stopped again, in vacantions almost and when he was on hospital. For me personally it was a sad experience watching the Elvis on Tour rehearsals. To me here in some parts Elvis seems subdued, ill, bored,uninspired and maybe drugged also. How far from Elvis,That's the way it is rehearsals when he was so energetic and inspired. Of course Elvis on tour have some great live concert moments but for me after watching again those 2 movies, I think in April 1972 Elvis begin to fall in a spiral that led to his early death. He again clean up himself with Aloha, but after that fall in the drugs trap again. The March 1974 tour also one of his greatest moments after that but by 1975 the pills went out of control again with many suplliers like Ghanem, Nick, Shapiro and others.

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:16 pm

jurasic1968 wrote:The Army was a key factor. Elvis begin to take Dexedrine (amphetamines) in November 1958 on Grafenwohr manouvers to stay awake on harsh conditions (the pills were given to him by a sergent) but he developed soon an adiction to them. He take them with cofee and he said to everybody how incredible energy obtained after that. in the early 60's when he was at Graceland he begin to take sleeping pills to sleep until 3 and 4 o'clock in the afternoon (Seconal, Placydil). In Hollywood he took again the uppers to be awake at 6 in the morning. In the middle 60's he begin to use Percodan or Dexamyl for the depression he fall when his career begin to decline, things that led to the march 1967 bathroom incident. After that, in 1967-1970 period he reduced the drugs, became happy and concentrated in music and he was almost clean. But, beginning with 1970 he again took more uppers to keep his weight down and downers to keep up with his frenetic Las Vegas schedule and touring. In the early 1972, depressed again and after Priscilla left him he begin to use Demerol (by injections) and Dilaudid and from now on things got worse. According to his inner circle, Elvis almost died from an overdose 2 or three times in 1973 after Aloha. Of course there were times when he stopped again, in vacantions almost and when he was on hospital. For me personally it was a sad experience watching the Elvis on Tour rehearsals. To me here in some parts Elvis seems subdued, ill, bored,uninspired and maybe drugged also. How far from Elvis,That's the way it is rehearsals when he was so energetic and inspired. Of course Elvis on tour have some great live concert moments but for me after watching again those 2 movies, I think in April 1972 Elvis begin to fall in a spiral that led to his early death. He again clean up himself with Aloha, but after that fall in the drugs trap again. The March 1974 tour also one of his greatest moments after that but by 1975 the pills went out of control again with many suplliers like Ghanem, Nick, Shapiro and others.




What happened in 1967 bathroom incident?

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:37 pm

To be honest, I don't think anyone can say exactly why Elvis got hooked on drugs. Some say boredom (most fans), some say for fun (Lamar), some say he was tired of being Elvis (Felton Jarvis)...who knows. Probably it was a mixture of different things, but we shouldn't forget his genetics and roots; look at all the other members of his family that got hooked on alcohol, drugs etc. (mother, uncles, aunts, cousins). Elvis told his close friends that he "needed them" (the drugs). Maybe Elvis even was a bi-polar, that would explain his behavior a lot of times. If so he basically was right. Bi-polar persons do need medication and during Elvis's lifetime they didn't get the right treatment like they do today. If Lamar was right Elvis even did some drugs before the army. Lamar said he did see things other didn't see, since he lived with Elvis at that time.

To just say that Elvis got bored and needed a world tour seems a bit shallow to me.

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:49 pm

Lamar gave contradictory declarations in many interviews and books. Even in Revelations of the Memphis Maphia he, Billy and Marty had different views about Elvis. Lanar sad that Elvis took pills one time in 1957 from his mother's medicine but after that he wrote that Elvis was too busy to take them regularly. Billy, Red, Joe, Priscilla, Linda Thompson (she said in an interview that Elvis told her with his own words he began to use pills in the Army) all said in the US Army Elvis became a regular use of amphetamines. In March 1967 Elvis fell into his bathroom and suffered a head contusion. He was under the influence of many sleeping pills that night. This was called the bathroom incident. A couple days later the Colonel fired some of Elvis's friends (including Larry Geller) and also forced Elvis (after a private meeting in Elvis's bedroom) to sign the first 50/50 percent contract.

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:43 pm

burninglove67 wrote:Such saracism on this site (it's quite annoying most of the time)...for someone new quesitoning Elvis' drug use...what's the big deal...if I was a new Elvis fan I would have questions too...just the same as when I disovered Elvis....many years ago....


Yeah you're right and I apologise for my sarcastic remark. I was indulging in my drugs of choice~beer and Jack Daniels~hence the stupid remark.Although Elvis' music is the most important subject such questions and discussions are important in understanding the man behind that music.


norrie

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:59 pm

Bodie wrote:
Elvisgirl wrote:
burninglove67 wrote:Such saracism on this site (it's quite annoying most of the time)...for someone new quesitoning Elvis' drug use...what's the big deal...if I was a new Elvis fan I would have questions too...just the same as when I disovered Elvis....many years ago....

i never questioned it...to me, things like that are not important


To you, no, but to others who could be new fans and don't want to listen to the press and media's version of Elvis' drug use and find out more reliable info about it, then we, as fans, should give them sensible answers.

The Doc is spot on with his reply to this.

the last thing i would listen to is the press and media's version of...anything. even when i was a new fan of elvis, this subject never interested me. it's just a too personal thing for me. only because he's elvis, no matter if a fan or not, it's something people are interested it. no privacy is the price of fame, and i don't like it. i don't feel i should be "snooping around" in his privacy, and i don't have the need to do it, like some people have. even though he's dead, it was no different when he was alive. and i respect it (privacy) after death as well. that goes for all famous people, dead or alive

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:50 pm

Are you a stalker promiseland...? Your avatar I mean...is she aware of you following her around taking pics of her?

Sincerely MB280E

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:54 pm

rjm wrote:Until about '70, late '70, I think, he was just dabbling. When O'Grady found his circulatory system suppressed early on (late 1970), this was no longer dabbling, but the shift is always hard to pinpoint - especially to the people closest. Factors may cause the shift, but it's hard to pin it down. Look at the candid photos, and they do tell a story.



Any more info about O'Grady's findings of Elvis' circulatory system in 1970? Something was clearly wrong with him by mid 1971, so it would be interesting to hear about any early signs from late 1970 to more precisely pinpoint when the abuse began escalating. He didn't quite seem the same after TTWII.

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:11 pm

TJ wrote:
promiseland wrote:As Lamar Fike once said he took drugs "..because he just fuc*ing loved em".

Plain and simple..


Lamar sure said some dumb and unnecessary things in his time. That was one of them.


What's so dumb about it?

A large majority of people who have done drugs do them because they like the feeling it gives them.

Elvis may have started doing drugs to stay awake but he probably kept doing them because he liked the buzz it gave him.

Then over time he developed a higher tolerance for them then gradually became addicted.

That's how it goes for drug users.

Lamar was probably right and being very truthful.

To say Lamar was a liar or his comments on this were dumb is wrong.
Last edited by brian on Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Re: Elvis and drugs

Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:13 pm

Thanks everyone for your replies. I've been a fan of E's music for a while but it was only after reading 'Elvis by the Memphis Mafia' that I because curious about his attitude to drugs. The media portrays him as a drug abuser and I wanted to know if this opinion is fair. I knew you guys would be more in the know.
Also, I can see why you might be annoyed at yet another Elvis and drugs posting but I couldn't find this answer anywhere.

Now, back to the music! ::rocks