On July 13, 1976, Presley’s father fired “Memphis Mafia” bodyguards Red West, Sonny West and David Hebler. All three were taken by surprise, especially the Wests, who had been with Presley since the beginning of his career. Presley was away in Palm Springs when it happened, and some suggest the singer was too cowardly to face them himself. Vernon Presley cited the need to “cut back on expenses” when dismissing the three, but David Stanley has claimed they were really fired because of becoming more outspoken about Presley’s drug dependency… The Wests and Hebler would later write a devastating indictment of Presley, notably his drug-taking, in the book: Elvis: What Happened?, published August 1, 1977.
Presley had developed many health problems during his life, some of them chronic. Opinions differ regarding the onset of his drug abuse. He did take amphetamines regularly in the army; it has been claimed that pills of some form were first given to him by Memphis DJ Dewey Phillips, but Presley’s friend Lamar Fike has said: “Elvis got his first uppers from what he stole from his mother. Gladys was given Dexedrine to help her with her ‘change of life’ problems.” Priscilla Presley saw “problems in Elvis’ life, all magnified by taking prescribed drugs.” Presley’s physician, Dr. Nichopoulos, has said: “[Elvis] felt that by getting [pills] from a doctor, he wasn’t the common everyday junkie getting something off the street. He… thought that as far as medications and drugs went, there was something for everything.”
…a thread of pain that ran through a remarkable career – and made painkillers all too accessible.
Because of accidents, frequent plastic surgery and the sheer intensity of his dancing, physical agony was the unshakable problem with being Michael Jackson…
Since his death, people close to Jackson have said they were worried about his dependence on the drugs. In 1993, while he was defending himself against child molestation charges, Jackson himself called it an addiction.
“In a way, this was coming, and in a way, it’s frustrating that we couldn’t do anything about it,” [Deepak Chopra] said. “The problem has been going on for a long time, but we didn’t know what to do. There were attempts at intervention, and it didn’t succeed.”
Chopra said Jackson, a longtime friend, personally asked him for painkillers in 2005, when the singer was staying with him after he was acquitted on sex-abuse charges. Chopra said he refused.
He also said the nanny of Jackson’s children repeatedly contacted him with concerns about Jackson’s drug use over the next four years, and said Jackson would avoid his calls whenever the subject came up.
In Rapid City, “he was so nervous on stage that he could hardly talk… He was undoubtedly painfully aware of how he looked, and he knew that in his condition, he could not perform any significant movement.” His performance in Omaha “exceeded everyone’s worst fears… [giving] the impression of a man crying out for help…” According to Guralnick, fans “were becoming increasingly voluble about their disappointment, but it all seemed to go right past Elvis, whose world was now confined almost entirely to his room and his [spiritualism] books.” A cousin, Billy Smith, recalled how Presley would sit in his room and chat, recounting things like his favorite Monty Python sketches and his own past japes, but “mostly there was a grim obsessiveness…”
[Grace Rwaramba, who] Michael Jackson hired to be nanny to his three children had to regularly pump the pop star’s stomach “to remove dangerous cocktails of drugs,” a newspaper report, published early Sunday, says…
‘She paints a grim picture of Jackson, sometimes penniless but deluded about his “riches”, leading a nomadic life, moving from country to country and hotel to hotel, before allegedly falling under the increasing influence of the Nation of Islam, the extremist sect.
Jackson is believed to have been taking up to eight different drugs a day, including three narcotic painkillers. Rwaramba, who is expected to be interviewed by detectives about whether she helped administer the drugs, said: “I had to pump his stomach many times. He always mixed so much of it.”‘
According to Guralnick: “[D]rug use was heavily implicated… no one ruled out the possibility of anaphylactic shock brought on by the codeine pills… to which he was known to have had a mild allergy.” In two lab reports filed two months later, each indicated “a strong belief that the primary cause of death was polypharmacy,” with one report “indicating the detection of fourteen drugs in Elvis’ system, ten in significant quantity.”
The medical profession has been seriously questioned. Medical Examiner Dr. Jerry Francisco had publicly offered a cause of death while the autopsy was still being performed, but before toxicology results were known. Dr. Francisco dubiously stated that cardiac arrhythmia was the cause of death, a condition that can only be determined in a living person—not post mortem. Many doctors had been flattered to be associated with Presley (or had been bribed with gifts) and supplied him with pills, which simply fed his addictions. The singer allegedly spent at least $1 million annually during his latter years on drugs and doctors’ fees or inducements. Although Dr. Nichopoulos was exonerated with regard to Presley’s death, “In the first eight months of 1977 alone, he had [prescribed] more than 10,000 doses of sedatives, amphetamines, and narcotics: all in Elvis’ name.
Michael Jackson’s death has lifted a veil on the sinister underbelly of fame, with associates of the pop icon hitting out at celebrity-dazzled doctors who funnel powerful narcotics to the stars.
Jackson, who died Thursday aged 50 after collapsing at his home in Beverly Hills, had a long history of prescription drug use, stretching back to 1993 when allegations of child abuse were leveled at him.
Reports that Jackson had been injected with a powerful painkiller by a personal physician shortly before his death triggered speculation that the star had a ready supply of prescription medications. Days after his death, reports indicated that Jackson took a daily cocktail of Demerol, Vistaril, Soma, Dilaudid, Vicodin, Zoloft, Prilosec, Paxil and Xanax.
Thanks to Wikipedia.