Lisa Marie Presley, who died aged 54, was the only child of Elvis. Although she knew she’d always be compared to him, she followed in his footsteps by forging her own career as a singer-songwriter, but what success she had was overshadowed by publicity about her private life, which was turbulent and touched by tragedy.
She was born in Memphis in 1968 to Elvis Presley and his wife Priscilla, and took part in her first photocall when she was four days old. Her father doted on her, said The Guardian. Once, he flew her to Idaho so that she could play in the snow for an hour (she had never seen it before); and he named his plane The Lisa Marie.
After her parents divorced, she moved with her mother to Los Angeles, but she continued to visit her father regularly at his Memphis mansion, Graceland. She was there when Presley was found dead in his bathroom, in 1977, and she is reported to have witnessed the efforts to save his life.
Even as a young girl, she found being Elvis’s daughter a trial. “In every school, the kids would automatically hate me and think I was stuck-up,” she once recalled. “But I wasn’t.” She left school at 17, and went through a wild period before waking up one day after a drug-fuelled party and going to her local Scientology church. She wound up living in its Celebrity Centre, where she met the musician Danny Keough. They married in 1988, and had two children.
Five years later, on her 25th birthday, she inherited the Presley estate, which was worth $100m. Priscilla had managed it well: despite his success, Presley had left only $5m, and tax debts. Lisa Marie, however, seemed to have inherited her father’s lack of business sense and his profligacy, said The Daily Telegraph: by 2015, all the money was gone.
In 1994 she divorced Keough, and less than a month later she caused a sensation by revealing that she had married Michael Jackson, whom she had first met when she was seven years old. He was being sued for child sex abuse, and she’d later say that she’d wanted to “save him”. The marriage, however, proved short-lived: they divorced in 1996. Her third marriage, to the actor Nicolas Cage, lasted just 107 days in 2002.
She mined her personal life for material, producing her first studio album, To Whom It May Concern, in 2003. It sold well, but her third, Storm & Grace (2012), was widely considered her best work. She recorded it while she was living in East Sussex with her fourth husband, Michael Lockwood, with whom she had twin daughters.
She seemed to have found a degree of peace in England. She tended her garden, and was seen drinking in the local pub and helping out in a friend’s chip van. But in 2016, she returned to the US and sued for divorce. In 2019, it was reported that Priscilla had had to sell her own house to pay Lisa Marie’s mounting debts. Then in 2020, her son Benjamin Keough died by suicide. Presley’s grief was overwhelming. “My and my three daughters’ lives as we knew it were completely detonated and destroyed by his death,” she wrote. “We live in this every. Single. Day.”