Elvis Presley’s ‘Dr. Nick’ dies at age 88
George Nichopoulos, known as “Dr. Nick” as he dispensed thousands of doses of prescription drugs to Elvis Presley in the final decade of the rock star’s life, has died at the age of 88, a Memphis, Tennessee, funeral home says.
Memorial Park Funeral Home, which posted an obit of Nichopoulos online, did not indicate the cause of death on Wednesday.
Nichopoulos met Presley in 1967 when he treated him for saddle sores suffered from horseback riding.
He realised Presley had an irrational approach to drugs the next time he treated the singer, who had taken a week’s worth of medication in one day for tonsillitis.
As Presley’s drug consumption continued in the 1970s, he suffered overdoses and acted erratically.
Nichopoulos provided him with painkillers such as Quaalude, Demerol, codeine, Percodan, Dilaudid, as well as a variety of stimulants and sedatives.
Presley, a notorious insomniac, often called Nichopoulos in the middle of the night to get drugs.
According to Joel Williamson’s book Elvis Presley: A Southern Life, such a scenario played out about 12 hours before Presley died on August 16, 1977, at age 42.
The cause of death was listed as cardiac arrhythmia but considering his history and a finding showing Presley had 14 drugs in his system, the medical examiner’s ruling set off talk of a cover-up.
The Tennessee medical board suspended Nichopoulos’ licence for three months in 1980 and a year later he was tried and acquitted of overprescribing for Presley, fellow rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis and others.
He testified his plan was to control his patients’ usage and eventually wean them.
Testimony from Nichopoulos’ trial showed he prescribed 19,000 doses for Presley in his final 31 and a half months, but the doctor said some were for members of the Presley entourage.
He testified that Presley’s drug regimen while on tour included 10 medications when he awoke in the afternoon, seven more an hour before a show, a shot of caffeine or a caffeine placebo immediately before show time, five drugs after the show and bedtime sedatives.
Nichopoulos’ medical licence was revoked permanently by the board in 1995 for a pattern of overprescribing drugs.
“No one understands that Elvis was so complicated,” Nichopoulos said in a 2009 interview with the Daily Beast website. “I worked so hard just to keep things together and then they turned the tables on me after he died and decided I was to blame.
Courtesy of The Australian by Bill Trott