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Towards the end of his short 42 years, Elvis Presley was struggling with health problems, prescription drug addiction and weight gain.
The world was shocked when on August 16, 1977 he suddenly died of a heart attack on the toilet, in his ensuite bathroom upstairs at Graceland.
A tragic ending to the incredible life of the best-selling solo artist in the history of music.
Yet his close friend and confidant, Memphis Mafia member Jerry Schilling, believes that had he lived, The King would have got himself together and given the world more amazing music, Oscar-worthy Hollywood movies and world tours.
He also shared the last time he ever saw a twinkle in Elvis’ eye with an infectious optimism for the future.
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Speaking exclusively with Express.co.uk, Schilling said: “I think he could have. If he would have had the opportunity to fulfil his creativity. I lost my friend at an early age with creative disappointment which caused other problems, there’s no doubt about that. But Elvis was a guy of the future. He was always 10-20 years ahead of everybody, whether it was English humour with Monty Python or acting or certainly, we know, music.
“You can’t have a genius like Elvis Presley and expect him to do three movies a year with basically the same script. If he didn’t know better or if he wasn’t that great artist then that would have been ok. And some of the movies were excellent and most of them entertaining. But I sat with him in a walk-in closet in Vegas, with Barbra Streisand and another of our other Memphis Mafia guys Joe Esposito and Jon Peters when she offered him A Star Is Born.”
Elvis hadn’t made a movie since 1969’s Change of Habit and this was a chance for him to star opposite her in the musical remake of the Judy Garland classic, which eventually had Kris Kristofferson cast in the role.
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Jerry continued: “Elvis was thrilled. He had seen the original and that got negotiated away from him. That was the last time I really saw the twinkle in my friend’s eye. He really wanted to tour England, Japan, France. He knew, because of who came to America, what kind of fans [he had] and he felt a responsibility as well a desire to want to come in person. There was always some excuse and it didn’t happen.
“So you take away an artist, of the genius of Elvis Presley, and you have him do the same buildings in the same country and the same movies in the same format…if they only let Elvis do what he wanted to do. In 1974 he asked me to open up Elvis Presley Film Productions and we started working on two films. We actually filmed some of a karate documentary. That was never finished [in total].
“Elvis could have been a Clint Eastwood, he could have been a Barbra Streisand as far as a producer. He had that type of stuff and maybe Hollywood didn’t want him to get too smart because they were making a lot of money off of him and he was making a lot of money. But for true artists that’s not enough and Elvis was an artist.”
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