Michael Jackson Trial Brings Up Questions About the Death of Elvis

Craig Rosen
Stop The Presses! (NEW)

Michael Jackson had a strange fascination with Elvis. He gave himself the nickname the "King of Pop," a clear reference to Presley's "King of Rock 'n' Roll" moniker. He even married Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie. And now, in death, the two are linked by concert promoter Paul Gongaware, who has the dubious distinction of being tied to both legends' final, ill-fated tours.

Testifying in the Jackson family's wrongful death suit against concert promoter AEG Live, Gongaware was asked about Presley's death. Gongaware, who is co-CEO of AEG Live, said Wednesday on the witness stand that Elvis died of a drug overdose, but when he was questioned by his own lawyer on Thursday, he changed his tune, and said that Presley died of heart problems, CNN reports.

When Elvis was found dead in the bathroom of Graceland on August 16, 1977 at the age of 42, the official cause of death was reportedly an irregular heartbeat. But the autopsy report was never made public and there's been speculation ever since that prescription drug abuse led to the King's demise.

Jackson family lawyers are hammering away at Gongaware by suggesting that after his experience with Elvis, he should have been able to identify Jackson's drug problem and done something to save his life.

Yet Gongaware testified that he had "no idea" Jackson was receiving nightly doses of propofol from Dr. Conrad Murray to help him with his insomnia. That drug, mixed with others Jackson was taking, led to his death.

The concert promoter also said that while he worked advance promotion on Elvis' final tours with Presley's legendary manager Colonel Tom Parker, he never actually met the performer.

When Gongaware was asked if he knew Presley had a drug problem, he responded, "I understood that later. There was a period of time when we didn't work. I didn't understand at the time, but I learned that it was a drug problem and the Colonel said he couldn't work."

Still, Jackson family lawyer Brian Panish noted that Gongaware linked to two legends when he responded to emailed condolence messages from friends, following Jackson's death. Gongaware wrote: "I was working on the Elvis tour when he died so I kind of knew what to expect. Still quite a shock."

When questioned by AEG's lawyer, Marvin Putman, Gongaware clarified that he didn't expect Jackson to die like Presley, rather he was referring to the shock of people losing their jobs due to the tour's cancellation.

While the link of Gongaware to Presley's death may be a stretch, the Jackson family may have already found their smoking gun on Wednesday, when other Gongaware emails were revealed that referred to Murray as an AEG employee. Since the doctor has already been convicted of — and is doing time for — involuntary manslaughter, the jury may draw the conclusion that AEG is liable for Jackson's death.

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