Lisa Marie Presley was the closest thing America had to royalty. She was a rock & roll princess, the only daughter of a King. But the rarified existence that Elvis’ fame and success afforded her also confined her — and perhaps presaged her death in January at 54. In an exhaustive feature story, RS details the heartbreaks, surprise marriages (to Michael Jackson, especially), and troubles with self-identity, substance abuse, and daily life in general that Presley faced. As friend and producer Glen Ballard says, “It was never an easy journey for her.” Here are five takeaways from our story, which you can read in full here.
Four days before she died, Presley visited the graves of her father and son.
Presley rarely attended the annual Elvis birthday celebrations at Graceland each Jan. 8, but she made an exception this year — briefly addressing the gathered fans and even posing for selfies. Hours before, though, she made a secret middle-of-night trip to the Meditation Garden on the property, where her father and son Ben are buried. “I’ll be right there next to him someday,” she said to a friend, motioning to the empty space next to where Ben had been laid to rest.
Her nascent music career was put on hold — partially thanks to Michael Jackson.
At least two years before they married, Presley and Jackson met at a private dinner of a Jackson friend; the King of Pop was supposedly curious about demos she had made. They grew close and, in a moment that stunned the world, eventually married. But what about a planned record deal? According to Jerry Schilling, Elvis’ longtime pal and member of his “Memphis Mafia” posse, Jackson wasn’t too thrilled: “He said, ‘It would be like Princess Di [who was still alive at the time] cutting an album. She doesn’t really need that.’” In what Schilling feels was likely a mutual decision on both Presley and Jackson’s parts, her first major shot in the music business was put on pause.
She and Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone were good buds.
If she and Jackson seemed like an odd couple, you could almost think the same of Presley and the former Ramones guitarist, who relocated to L.A. in the late Nineties after the band dissolved. But they (and Ramone’s wife Linda) became close friends, drawn together by their mutual punk attitude and caustic humor, if not always their musical tastes. (She was more into metal, hard rock and grunge at the time than classic rock of the Fifties and Sixties.) When Johnny was dying of prostate cancer in 2004 Presley could often be found by his hospital bed.
Presley was planning to devote a chunk of her next few years to helping others cope with grief.
According to sources in her world, Presley was hoping to channel her experiences with death and learned wisdom into a book on grief, as well as a possible podcast on the subject, in conjunction with David Kessler, an L.A.-based grief specialist and one of her close friends in her later years. (A planned memoir was put on hold.) Starting in late 2021, she also met with producer and songwriter Linda Perry about resuming a music career that had been dormant for about a decade, but plans were never finalized.
She and Alanis Morissette shared thoughts on celebrity — and food?
In the midst of her white-hot moment with Jagged Little Pill, Morissette was chilling at a rental home in Malibu when Presley appeared out of nowhere to say hello. They became friends, with Presley listening empathetically as Morissette talked about dealing with all-encompassing fame. They may have had another thing in common: When Presley introduced herself that day, Morissette was eating, of all things, a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich — a fave of Presley’s dad.