In a time when the music industry churns out lackluster “music” daily, it is a treat to be reminded of a time when the airwaves were dominated by a new sound, one that acted as a catalyst to so many artists who would follow in the footsteps of one of the greatest to ever do it.
Elvis, one of the most instantly recognizable figures in pop culture, remains, today, one of the most influential, culturally significant, and enduring musical artists of all-time. His music has transcended time and space to be as relevant now as it ever was (Listen to “If I Can Dream”). During his reign as the King of Rock n’ Roll and his complete destruction of the cultural zeitgeist of the mid-1950s—a turning point for America—Elvis was plagued with health issues, largely hidden from the public until now.
In Destined to Die Young, Sally Hoedel’s new and illuminating book, we as the reader are shown through factual and scientific data that the stories and myths that have been perpetuated since Elvis’ death in the early hours of August 16, 1977, are an incorrect rhetoric which in some ways have tarnished the reputation of a man known for his generosity and love for those around him.
“Elvis’ way of life, – was one that looked out for others, one that was vigilant in caring for a fellow human in need.”
Hoedel does an excellent job presenting her data through the lens of not only a long-time Elvis fan, giving the reader intimate insight to Elvis’ life from a poverty-stricken child to the most famous man on the planet, but as an investigative journalist trying to restore some truth to the legacy of an icon.
Hoedel, unlike past Elvis historians, examines Elvis’ family lineage decades before the young, scrawny boy from Tupelo was even born. She takes a deep dive into the family tree to uncover rampant genetic health issues which stemmed from the poverty that was so prevalent in the South. “Poverty was a demanding master in rural Mississippi” one that takes its toll on those who have suffered from its wickedness, particularly its effects on health. These health issues would one day plague Elvis up until his failing health and eventual death at 42 years old.
Through years of research, analysis, and interviews Hoedel uncovers for the first time that Elvis suffered from disease in nine of the eleven bodily systems and five of those nine were present from birth. This eye-opening information, again, disproves the myth that Elvis died due to the abuse and addiction to prescription drugs.
With more and more of the younger generations being introduced to Elvis through Baz Luhrmann’s new biopic, Elvis (2022), it is more important now than ever to show the world the truth about the life Elvis lived. Though short, the impact that Elvis had on history is one that cannot be argued. Hoedel does a wonderful job doing just that, showing the reader that Elvis was an afflicted man who suffered from constant pain for most of his life due to genetic health issues which were out of his control. But, more importantly, Hoedel reminds the reader that through all the pain and suffering Elvis was a son, husband, devoted father, and support system to the many people who relied on him.
Elvis would have been 87 January 8th of this year and as we get closer to the 45th anniversary of his death on August 16th, we can only wonder what kind of impact The King would have had on the world if we were able to have him in our lives a little bit longer.