There’s a famous photograph of Elvis Presley shaking hands with Richard Nixon in the White House. It’s a baffling picture with an even crazier story. Elvis, during that meeting, told Nixon, “I’m on your side.” He claimed he’d been studying drug culture and communist brainwashing. Drug abusers and The Beatles, the two agreed, were spreading an anti-American spirit across the country.
Elvis had a love for what were then called “downers”: barbiturates, sleeping pills, painkillers, the combination of which will induce a sleepy, calm euphoria.
In addition to the ten drugs found in his system at the time of death, Elvis was known to have tried Dilaudid, Percodan, Placidyl, Dexedrine (a rare “upper,” then prescribed as a “diet pill”), Biphetamine, Tiunal, Desbutal, Escatrol, Amytal, Quaaludes, Carbrital, Seconal, Methadone, and Ritalin.
It’s hard to imagine one of the biggest figures in rock ‘n roll being so strongly against drugs—mostly because he wasn’t. Elvis, at this point, was already heavily addicted to prescription drugs. He was at the White House because he wanted to do more drugs.
Elvis wanted a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge. His wife, Priscilla Presley, explained, “With the federal narcotic badge, he could legally enter any country both wearing guns and carrying any drugs he wished.”
After telling Nixon his worried about drug cultures, Elvis asked the Nixon for a badge. Nixon promised he’d get him one, and Elvis, surprised that his plan had worked, got so excited that he hugged the president.
A few years later, Elvis, with his Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge still on him, died
Doctor George Nichopoulos, who claimed to have written prescriptions for 10,000 doses of uppers, downers and assorted narcotics in the last seven months of Presley’s life.
Elvis’s passion for prescription drugs, which he acquired from numerous sources. “They came in from everywhere,” says the nurse, who often accompanied Presley on tour to keep track of his addiction.
“Strangers gave him pills to get on his good side and Elvis hoarded them. His access to medications wasoverwhelming and I couldn’t catch them all. There were no street drugs just prescription
“We had to watch Elvis around the clock, since he was taking so many drugs that he spent more time completely obliterated than not,” writes Stanley, whose mother was Dee Presley, Presley’s father Vernon’s second wife.