Since Elvis was prescribed his meds from doctors, he denied having a problem. However, everyone else saw that he was struggling.
The King’s keyboardist, Tony Brown, recalled Elvis stumbling out of a limo when arriving at the University of Maryland for a concert. According to him, people jumped to help Elvis out, only to be pushed away by him. He also said that Elvis spent the first thirty minutes of the show holding on to the mic stand to not fall down. The entire tour was at risk.
Priscilla Opens A Boutique
After her divorce from Elvis, Priscilla wanted to pursue a career that would allow her to stand on her own two feet. She opened a boutique clothing store in Los Angeles with friend and stylist Olivia Bis called Bis & Beau.
With Elvis’s help, the shop was successful and helped to dress celebrity clients including Cher, Barbra Streisand, and Natalie Wood. It lasted just three years.
Elvis’s Failing Health
Elvis’ health significantly deteriorated after separating from Priscilla. His substance abuse worsened and he suffered two ODs in 1973, the first which left him in a three-day coma. At the end of the same year, he was hospitalized for the same reason, remaining in a nearly vegetative state throughout his stay.
His tour schedule was hectic and he was busier than ever, which certainly didn’t help his condition. Rather than rest, however, in 1974 he agreed to go on another tour.
The King's Gut
It was also during this time that Elvis developed his infamous gut that nearly made him unrecognizable. His performances were so bad that many around him suggested he took a break. Guitarist John Wilkinson spoke about this period and said Elvis was in such bad shape he was hardly intelligible.
The King’s substance dependency eventually got so bad that he ended up firing anyone who commented on it. Unfortunately, this included his team of bodyguards and close friends. Elvis’ father handled much of the musician’s finances, and for this reason, he was the one to let them all go claiming they had to cut back on expenses.
The Final Proposal
In 1976, Elvis was dating model and actress Ginger Alden. He ultimately proposed, but friends of the singer claimed he wasn’t serious about getting married again after his recent divorce.
The quality of his performances declined even further. When he managed not to sleep through his shows, he would be slurring so badly that his words were inaudible. While he was able to lose some weight before his death, his health never recovered.