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Priscilla Presley Talks Openly About Losing Elvis To His Addiction

Austin Chronicle / AP

More than 40 years after his death, Elvis Presley's fans are still mourning the King of Rock and Roll.

Now his ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, is paying tribute to her late husband.

She's also shining a light on the "final chapter" of his life, and the drug addiction that killed him at a tragically young age.

"He knew what he was doing."

Priscilla is promoting a new HBO documentary about her ex-husband's life, The Searcher, which she also produced.

The movie chronicles Elvis's life from birth to his final recording session in 1976.

Elvis and Priscilla on their wedding day.The Mirror

At an event for the movie at the SXSW festival, Presley was candid about losing the musician to his prescription painkiller addiction.

“It was difficult for all of us, we certainly didn’t see it coming. But we certainly saw the journey he was taking," she revealed.

“People go, well, ‘Why didn’t anyone do anything?’ Well, that’s not true. People there in the inner group did, but you did not tell Elvis Presley what to do.

You did not. I mean, you’d be out of there faster than a scratched cat. They would try and no way. He knew what he was doing.”

In The Army

Presley also revealed that Elvis started experimenting with drugs during his time in the Army.

While stationed in Germany - where he first met Priscilla - Elvis was given pills to stay awake during guard duty.

"And if you take a sleeping pill, you have to do something to get yourself awake," Priscilla explained.

"He was in unchartered territory, he truly was, and he did this and tried to do this alone.”

But when his addiction finally took its toll on Elvis, Priscilla says she was as shocked as anyone else.

The Day the Music Died

After Elvis died in 1977 at just 42 years old, the world waited to learn his cause of death.

The coroner who issued the King's death certificate listed the cause as an arrhythmia, or a heart attack.

But further tests revealed the musician had a cocktail of 14 prescription drugs in his system when he passed away.

News eventually broke that Presley's doctors had prescribed as many as 10,000 pills to him the year he died.

Ray Dumas - Flickr

Priscilla says her ex-husband's addiction was encouraged by his fear of falling asleep and chronic insomnia, which he had lived with since childhood.

But she was still stunned news of Elvis's death.

She remembered that day as “the eeriest I had ever experienced" at a speaking engagement last year.

"It’s like the world stood still. I just couldn’t believe my ears. Not him.”

Setting the Record Straight

Priscilla says she has been exploring her past with Elvis more openly in recent years to "tell it like it is," and dispel rumors about the famous musician.

"The artist has been lost in the legend,” she told the crowd at SXSW.

“You couldn’t plan Elvis Presley,” she said.

“I’ve had college professors come to me with their theories of why Elvis had the impact he had, trying to explain him to me. And they’re always laughable!”

Maybe there's just no way to define Elvis except as the King.

Are you still an Elvis fan four decades after he passed away?

[H/T: Austin Chronicle, People]

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com