Someone turned the lights out there in Memphis
Ooh, that’s where my family’s buried and gone
Last time I was there I noticed a space left.
Oh, next to them there in Memphis, yeah
Lisa Marie Presley Lights Out 2003
It is tough enough growing up in the spotlight as the daughter of the greatest rock and roll star of all time. Lisa Marie Presley the only child of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, who died last Thursday at the age of 54 lived in the shadow of her father’s legacy even as she struggled to craft her own career amid controversy and tragedy.
How fitting that her last public appearance was at Golden Globe Awards on January 10, 2023, as Austin Butler picked up the Best Actor Award for playing the title role in last year’s critically acclaimed biographical film Elvis.
“It is almost as if he put all his heart, and soul, everything he had into researching, reading, watching, he honoured Elvis in every way possible,” said Lisa Marie Presley about the actor’s portrayal of her father.
On January 8, she had attended a celebration on what would have been her father’s 88th birthday and addressed Elvis fans who turned up at his iconic Graceland estate in Memphis, Tennessee.
Four days later she suffered a cardiac arrest and died in a California hospital. The Meditation Garden within the Graceland grounds where her father is buried will also be her final resting place, just as she sang in Lights Out a decade ago (She will be buried next to her son Benjamin who committed suicide in 2020).
Lisa Marie Presley grew up split between her father’s home and her mother Priscilla’s residence in Los Angeles after her parents separated in 1972.
Elvis dotted on his daughter, christened his private jet Lisa Marie and once flew her to Idaho just so she could play in the snow for the first time.
Tragedy struck at the Graceland mansion in 1977 when 9-year-old Lisa Marie witnessed her father’s death after a heart attack, an incident that would define the rest of her life.
She came to global attention in 1994 with her fairytale marriage to Michael Jackson just as the first child molestation allegations against him surfaced.
The marriage came 20 days after she divorced her first husband Danny Keough, a musician whom she had met during a stint in rehab.
Lisa Marie famously appeared alongside Michael Jackson in the risqué music video for You Are Not Alone in 1995 but by January 1996 the marriage had collapsed.
She was married on two more occasions: to actor Nicholas Cage in 2002 but the couple split less than four months later, and in 2006 to her guitarist Michael Lockwood, a union which lasted a decade.
“Part of the problem with my love life is that I am looking for someone similar to my father,” she explained to the New York Times in 2003.
“He was so extraordinary a presence, not even as an entertainer, just as a person.”
Beyond the striking physical resemblance to her father, she also inherited a passion for music and was writing songs from the age of 23 because she found the process “cathartic”.
Lisa Marie Presley’s own music may not have scaled the heights of her father’s classics but she still attained enviable success.
Her debut album To Whom It May Concern released in 2003 reached No 5 on the US Billboard charts and was certified gold with sales of 500,000 copies.
Her second Now What in 2005 was also a Top 10 pop hit in the US while her third and final album Storm and Grace in 2012 was praised by Rolling Stone magazine for sounding “stronger, more mature and more effective” than her previous pop-oriented recordings.
She would commemorate the anniversaries of her dad’s death by recording posthumous duets with him of hits like In the Ghetto, Where No One Stands Alone, and I Love You Because.
In 2018 she co-produced the album Where No One Stands Alone featuring some of her father’s gospel songs, including a reimagined duet of the title track.
She wrote on the album’s liner notes: “It was a very powerful and moving experience to sing with my father.
The lyrics speak to me and touch my soul. I’m certain that the lyrics spoke to my father in much the same way.”
Also read: Amazing Grace: Famous hymn turns 250
The success of the film Elvis came as a surprise to her:
“I was expecting to be disappointed. I am very protective of him and I don’t want anyone saying anything about him in a negative way,” she said in an interview.