Elvis Presley died from bad genes and not bad drugs, according to a new book

2 August 2021, 10:57 | Updated: 10 January 2024, 10:18

Elvis Presley at the '68 Comeback Special
Elvis Presley at the '68 Comeback Special. Picture: Getty

By Mayer Nissim

The author of a new book says Elvis was "self-medicating" due to many health issues.

Elvis Presley died in 1977 aged just 42 and it's long been believed that an unhealthy lifestyle and drug abuse were key factors, but a new book instead points the finger at genetics.

Author Sally Hoedel's Elvis: Destined to Die Young notes that Elvis's mother's parents were first cousins, with ill-health running through that side of the family.

Elvis's mother Gladys died aged just 46, and three of his uncles also died young.

Hoedel told The Observer that while Elvis certainly did take a lot of medication, his health difficulties may have prompted him to do so.

Elvis Presley - An American Trilogy (Aloha From Hawaii, Live in Honolulu, 1973)

QUIZ: How well do you know Elvis Presley?

One of the genetic conditions Elvis suffered from was alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, which can attack the lungs and liver.

He also struggled with insomnia, colon issues and an immune deficiency.

"His health issues were varied but he hid them so well that over-medication is all we remember now,” Hoedel said.

"It became a problem, but why was he taking them in the first place?"

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley. Picture: Getty

Gold's Hall of Fame: Elvis Presley

She added: "One of the reasons Elvis turned to the medication was pain.

"He took too much at times but he was self-medicating because he was trying to find a way to be Elvis Presley."

Hoedel continued: "Elvis is seen as less or more than human, like an image, and he's been reduced to this rock'n'roll guy who died in his bathroom from taking too many pills.

"That's not enough for a man who culturally shifted our universe. It's not accurate and it's not enough.

"Elvis was a sick man who hid a lot of his weakness to fill concert venues and support his family. By examining his flaws and health issues, maybe we can start to see his humanity again."

Can't Help Falling In Love ('68 Comeback Special 50th Anniversary HD Remaster)

Recently, it was claimed that Elvis Presley was technically Jewish by birth.

It emerged that the King of Rock and Roll had designed a headstone for his mother Gladys that featured a cross on the right, but also a Star of David on the left.

Graceland’s long-time vice president of archives and exhibits Angie Marchese believes Gladys's great grandmother was a Mississippi-born Jewish woman called Nancy Burdine, whose family moved to America from Eastern Europe in the late 1700s.