Fans flock to Graceland marking 40 years since Elvis Presley’s death

Fans flock to Graceland marking 40 years since Elvis Presley's death thumbnail

It isn’t just the legend of Elvis Presley that has unmatched staying power 40 years after his death. The guilt, pain and regret felt by those who knew and loved him lingers, too.

Prolific session musician and producer Norbert Putnam was on vacation with his family in Hawaii when he heard his friend died of a heart attack.

After years of making groundbreaking music and acting in more than two dozen movies, Presley’s career had slowed, and historical accounts of his life note he was fighting obesity and substance abuse when he passed away in his Graceland home in Memphis, Tenn.

Putnam was standing in line to pay for items at a general store when he heard someone say Presley had died.

“I reached into my pocket, threw some money down, ran to the car, threw the food down, turned on the radio,” Putnam said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

Putnam switched on the radio. The announcer said: “Elvis Presley died this morning.”

Friends of Presley expressed regret and sorrow over his heart attack death in 1977 following years of substance abuse. Many believe they should have done more to help him. (Mark Humphrey/The Associated Press)

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