United Kingdom

Elvis was not an addict but a sick man supporting his family, biographer claims

Elvis Presley's poor health wasn't due to his addiction, but to a series of congenital diseases, a biographer has claimed. 

Sally Hoedel has penned Elvis: Destined to Die Young, which claims the Mississippi singer wasn't an addict, but a sick man working to support his family.

The singer was found dead in his property of Graceland aged 42, and it was ruled he had suffered a heart attack due to his addiction to prescription medication. 

However, Hoedel claims that the singer was plagued by countless congenital diseases due to the fact his maternal grandparents were first cousins.  

She draws parallels between the fact that Elvis died aged 42 and that his mother, Gladys Presley, died aged 46 even though she was on different medication. 

Hoedel told The Observer that the singer's family had been cursed with early deaths, and that Elvis was medicated to fight a series of congenital illnesses that could have affected his mother and three of his uncles.    

Elvis biographer Sally Hoadel told the Observer that the reason the singer was over-medicating with prescription drugs was because he suffered from a series of congenital diseases. Elvis's mother, Gladys Presley's parents were first cousins, and she died aged 46, when Elvis died aged 42

Elvis was more than a rock 'n' roll guy with a pill addiction, Hoedel claimed. The author said the singer, pictured in 1975, was hiding his weakness with medication because he was trying to support his family 

She claimed that while Elvis had developed a pill problem, the reason he was taking them in the first place was to hide his weak health.  

She said it wasn't fair to reduce the rock'n roller as an addict, because he was suffering with five different types of diseases from birth. 

Some of Elvis' ailments included a genetic alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, which can attack the lungs and liver; colon issues; an immune deficiency and lifelong insomnia.

She argued that Gladys Presley, who died aged 46, had a similar period of five years of degenerative health before her death, even though she was on different medication to her son. 

A family tree of Elvis, who was born in 1935 and died in 1977 from a heart attack. The singer had four children from two marriages 

She added the singer suffered from disease in nine of the 11 bodily systems, five of these diseases occurring from birth.  

'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,' Hoedel explained. 

Hoedel, a life-long fan of the singer, said Elvis had done to music what Thomas Edison had done to electricity, or Henry Ford to manufacturing, but that his story was boiled down to sensationalism and addiction. 

'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,' she added. 

Elvis with his mother Gladys Presley and his father Vernon in 1961. The singer suffered with congenital diseases from birth 

Elvis with his parents circa 1958. The rocker died of a heart attack due to medication when he was 42, but was over-medicating to fight a series of congenital diseases brought on by the marriage of his maternal grandparents who were first cousins, Hoedel claims 

The author claimed first cousins marrying were not unusual at the time - primarily for financial reasons. 

'If we can strip away the negative connotations, and then look at the consequences, there's a lot of truth to be uncovered,' she said.

She went on to say that the singer was under a tremendous amount of pressure and felt like he couldn't stop performing because too many people, including his family, were depending on him.  

'It was hard to be Elvis, no one had done fame like that before, and no one else could do it for him,' Hoedel added. 

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