Elvis Presley’s Producer Said His Death Was Caused by a Broken Heart

Elvis Presley’s death inspired a lot of speculation over the years. His  producer, Sam Phillips, blamed his death squarely on a broken heart. He felt Elvis might not have died if only he had behaved in a different way. Here’s what Phillips said about the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s passing many years after the fact.

Angel figurines at Elvis Presley's grave
Elvis Presley’s grave | David LEFRANC/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Elvis Presley’s producer felt the singer was ‘in trouble’ prior to his death

During a 1986 interview with Rolling Stone’s Elizabeth Kaye, Phillips discussed many of the legends he worked with, including Ike Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash. Elvis came up several times over the course of the conversation. Kaye noted Phillips once said Elvis died of a broken heart and asked Phillips to elaborate on that comment.

“When you really don’t have something to look forward to with a good, sweet, beautiful attitude, you’re in trouble,” he opined. “I don’t care who you are. You’re also in trouble if you’re in bondage in any way. I’m talking about emotional entrapment. That’s deep stuff. And it’s serious stuff. And no matter what happens to you in this world, if you don’t make it your business to be happy, then you may have gained the whole world and lost your spirit and maybe even your damned soul.”

Fans outside the gate of Elvis Presley's Graceland
Mourners at Elvis Presley’s funeral | Shepard Sherbell/Corbis via Getty Images

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What Sam Phillips felt Elvis Presley should have done differently

Kaye asked what the “Can’t Help Falling in Love” singer could have done differently. “Been hardheaded like me and said, ‘I will break your damned neck. I don’t care— you can’t scare me. Monetary factors can’t scare me. Starvation can’t scare me. Threats can’t scare me,’” Phillips replied. “I mean, you have to have that attitude. Elvis also knew that success wasn’t enough. It’s like Mac Davis said, man, and I think this is one of the greatest quotes, Bible included: ‘Stop and smell the roses.’”

For context, “Stop and Smell the Roses” was the name of one of Davis’ songs. Phillips felt we could all end up like Elvis if we didn’t stop and smell the roses. He implied the singer was dead emotionally before he was dead physically.

“Stop and Smell the Roses”

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Priscilla Presley discussed Elvis Presley’s emotional state near his death

In her book Elvis and Me, Priscilla revealed her husband had some emotional issues. Among them, he felt he hadn’t found his true calling in life. She recalls that in April of 1977, he was reading Cheiro’s Book of Numbers in an attempt to find some spiritual guidance. She noted he had been searching for spiritual answers for many, many years before that night. While the singer had a jet-setting lifestyle, both Phillips and Priscilla agreed something was missing in his life. 

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