Elvis Presley first met beauty queen Linda Thompson, who was 15 years his junior, at one of his private movie screenings in Memphis in 1972. They soon started dating and he spent the next four years of his life with her. The couple broke up just one year before his death and, in an interview with Dean Z last year, Linda opened up on the reason she left the King.
Speaking at the Las Vegas Elvis Festival, she looked back on her time with Elvis and his decline in the final years of his life.
“I asked him one time when we were sitting and having a philosophical talk, ‘What do you think is your worst flaw?’” she said. “And he thought for a minute and he said, ‘Well, I’m probably only gonna say this once but think I’m a little bit self-destructive.’
“That stuck with me in the later years,” Linda explained. “He recognised it but he had already started the downward spiral and I don’t think he could stop it.”
Elvis’ former girlfriend went on to share an insight into his health during the years they were together, revealing the toll it took on her.
“Once I realised that Elvis took sleep medication and sometimes some other things that maybe interacted with that, I was like having a newborn baby,” she said. “I wouldn’t sleep. I wanted to know he was okay.
“So, I would sit and watch him until he fell asleep. Then I would get up all through the night and had a pattern of wakefulness to check on his breathing and make sure he was okay, because sometimes he wasn’t.
“It was exhausting, I have to admit,” she continued. “I was a young girl but it was still exhausting when you’re not sleeping.
“And, also, just emotionally exhausting because this is a person that I loved more than my own life.”
Linda proceeded to discuss the struggle of watching her love “slowly self-destruct and not being able to do anything about it”.
“I didn’t have the facilities, I didn’t have the education,” she said. “I’d never done drugs. I’d never even drank alcohol. I’d never smoked a cigarette. I didn’t know how to deal with this except to be there and to try to keep him healthy.
“There was this one morning that he wasn’t breathing properly and I had to call an ambulance and the ambulance came and got him. There were several times like that where it was really frightening.”
Revealing why she ultimately decided to break off their romantic relationship, she continued: “After a while I thought, I do want to get married, I do want to have children, I want to be a mom.”
“This is not the kind of life I want to bring a child into.
“I finally just thought, I can’t spend my life trying to keep him alive. That shouldn’t be anyone’s lot in life.
“And he had begun to see other girls. When I wasn’t with him I knew that he would be with someone else,” Linda added, smiling.
“I knew it wasn’t always about having sex with someone else, it was about reading those books and connecting.
“Logically I tried to reconcile it in my mind but emotionally it’s hard. When you love someone, you don’t want to think of them with another woman,” she added.
“It all came to a point in my life where I just thought, I don’t think this is the life that I want to sign on for.”
Linda and Elvis remained good friends following the end of their relationship.
She was also close with his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, who was just nine-years-old when the Blue Suede Shoes hitmaker died on August 16, 1977.
The beauty pageant winner and actress received the news of Elvis’ death from Lisa Marie, who phoned her that night to talk to her about her father’s passing.