The King fired his beloved bodyguards, replacing them with his young step-brothers who became addicted themselves. In desperation, his father, Vernon, and his manager, Colonel Parker, begged his ex-wife to intervene and get him help. But Priscilla too failed.
It was déjà vu for their daughter, Lisa Marie, who married Michael seven months after his first detox. "I became very ill and emotionally/spiritually exhausted in my quest to save Michael from certain self-destructive behavior,” she wrote. Before they were divorced, he had begged her to join him in a séance to reach Elvis.
Before their untimely deaths, the King of Rock and the King of Pop – though one had become a behemoth and the other skeletal – had become much the same person. Both were on the verge of bankruptcy. Both were being called has-beens.
Elvis was about to return to the road, but feared he hadn’t the strength. At the end of his previous tour, after his grand Thus Spake Zarathustra entrance, he had collapsed on stage, wept, and been carried out. “My life is over. I’m a dead man!” he told his step-brother and biographer, David Stanley (Raised on Rock) after his bodyguards published a tell-all (Elvis: What Happened?) revealing him as terminally addicted.
Michael, on the brink of a comeback tour himself, had collapsed during a Staples rehearsal. “It’s over…I’m better off dead,” he told one of his handlers, according to biographer Ian Halperin.
The last enabler of each king – Dr. Conrad Murray for Michael, Dr. George Nichopoulos for Elvis – unsuccessfully performed CPR. The family of each star blamed his physician for the tragedy. Nichopoulos was tried for manslaughter, exonerated, but suspended from medical practice. Murray will also be tried for manslaughter, and may lose his license, too.
Near the end, the King wrote the epitaph for himself, as well as for his son-in-law: “The image is one thing and the human being is another, it's very hard to live up to an image.”