The Daily Telegraph

Lisa Marie Presley

The daughter Elvis doted on who became a singer-songwriter but struggled to find contentmen­t

- Lisa Marie Presley, born February 1 1968, died January 12 2023

LISA MARIE PRESLEY, who has died aged 54 after suffering a suspected cardiac arrest, was the only child and heir of Elvis Presley; she followed in his footsteps to establish herself as a singersong­writer, but like her father never seemed to find stability or happiness.

It was not hard to spot the resemblanc­e between Lisa Marie and Elvis. She had his eyes and strong jaw, and the slight curl to the upper lip, and as a singer she inevitably found herself compared to him. When, with the aid of technology, she made a video singing a duet with her late father, one uncharitab­le reviewer wrote that unfortunat­ely she had inherited her dad’s looks but her mother Priscilla’s voice.

Lisa Marie Presley released three albums, with her 2003 debut To Whom It May Concern, a slick pop-rock compilatio­n, selling in the hundreds of thousands ; a spin-off single, Lights Out, reached No 16 in the UK charts. The Telegraph’s critic was unimpresse­d, though, describing it as “one of those bland AOR [album/adult-oriented rock] records you try to blot out of your mind”.

Lisa Marie Presley’s latent promise as a singer-songwriter was displayed to better effect, however, in her third album Storm & Grace (2012), hailed by Neil Mccormick in the Telegraph as “a slice of authentic Americana, a beautifull­y performed, delicately understate­d selection of moody, intimate songs of struggle and escape”. It sounded, he wrote, “like the album Presley has been waiting to make all her life”.

It was composed over the course of 18 months in England, where Lisa Marie had moved in 2010 with her fourth husband Michael Lockwood, with such acclaimed British songwriter­s as Richard Hawley and Ed Harcourt and produced in Los Angeles by T-bone Burnett.

But her singing career had always been overshadow­ed by publicity about her turbulent private life, including short-lived marriages to Michael Jackson and the Hollywood star Nicolas Cage. And within four years of the album’s release her fourth marriage – and her singing career – were effectivel­y over.

Lisa Marie Presley was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on February 1 1968 to Elvis Presley and the former Priscilla Beaulieu and spent her early years at Graceland, where in 1976 her father gave her a powderblue Harley-davidson golf cart in which she would scoot around the garden. Her parents separated when she was four and after their divorce she lived with her mother in Los Angeles, but with frequent visits to her father, who doted on her, naming his jet airliner Lisa Marie.

“I knew that he was special but we had our own relationsh­ip,” she told Neil Mccormick. “He would set himself up in my room with a chair and table and TV; it was like a retreat for him to come in and sit there. So I could wake up in the middle of the night and he’d be there and we would talk.

“…I loved to listen to the Sweet Inspiratio­ns, his background singers. I loved music. I had this little turquoise record player sitting in the middle of the room and I’d just play 45s all day and night.”

She was nine when in 1977 Elvis’s girlfriend Ginger Alden found him dead in his bathroom at the age of 42.

Elvis’s biographer Peter Guralnick describes the scene of panic: “Lisa arrived in the midst of it all. ‘What’s wrong with my daddy?’ she demanded, as Ginger closed the bathroom door. ‘Something’s wrong with my daddy and I’m going to find out,’ the little girl declared defiantly, and someone quickly locked the other bathroom door as Lisa ran around to try to get in.”

Aged 25, Lisa Marie became the sole executor of Presley’s estate, subsequent­ly selling 85 per cent of the rights to exploit his name and music for $100 million in 2004.

She started writing songs at 20, although, lacking confidence, she did not launch her own musical career until her 30s.

Even then she found the demands of live performanc­e in big venues intimidati­ng: “David Bowie came to a show in New York and saw that I was like a deer caught in the headlights. He told me, ‘You need to find your stage legs. Pull the reins in and don’t let it break your heart.’ So I did a small club tour and had a hell of a time; it was something I could navigate.”

She had been brought up by her mother Priscilla in the Church of Scientolog­y, and in 1988, aged 20, she married Danny Keough, a Chicago-born musician and Scientolog­ist, with whom she had a daughter, and a son, Benjamin, who took his own life aged 27 in 2020.

The marriage ended in “quickie” divorce after six years in 1994, and 20 days later she married Michael Jackson, appearing in his You Are Not Alone video and persuading him to settle allegation­s of child molestatio­n out of court, before suing him for divorce in 1996 citing “irreconcil­able difference­s”.

It was “irreconcil­able difference­s”, too, that ended her marriage to Nicolas Cage. The couple had tied the knot in August 2002 in a “secret” wedding in Hawaii, but three months later it was all over. “I’m sad about this, but we shouldn’t have been married in the first place,” Lisa Marie said.

In 2006 she married Michael Lockwood, a guitarist with her band, with whom she had twin daughters, and in 2010 she moved with her family to a 15th-century manor house in Rotherfiel­d, East Sussex, near the British headquarte­rs of the Church of Scientolog­y.

It seemed she had finally found peace, enjoying drinks in the pub, growing potatoes and occasional­ly helping friends in their chip van (leading The Sun to claim that she had taken a job with Mr Chippy).

The English lifestyle seemed to suit her. “I don’t mind it when the sky is dark and cloudy,” she told The Sunday Telegraph Magazine. “I’m as happy as can be when I’m rugged up in front of the fireplace.”

But in 2016 she returned to the US and filed for divorce from Lockwood.

In 2018, claiming that she had just $14,000 left of her father’s fortune, she sued Barry Siegel, her former business manager, for reckless mismanagem­ent. Siegel countersue­d, blaming Lisa Marie’s “out-ofcontrol spending”. The case against Siegel was still pending as of 2021.

Like her father (and his mother, too), Lisa Marie struggled with addiction. In a 2003 interview she described how at a low point in her life she used “cocaine, sedatives, pot and drinking – all at the same time. I just couldn’t be sober… I don’t know how I lived through it.”

In 2008 she became addicted to opioids after she was prescribed them following the birth of her twin daughters. She checked herself into rehab (one of five stints), but in a foreword to Harry Nelson’s 2019 book The United States of Opioids: A Prescripti­on for Liberating a Nation in Pain, she wrote of the difficulty of overcoming her dependence.

When last seen in public, on Tuesday night at the Golden Globes, where she watched Austin Butler win an award for his remarkable portrayal of her father in the film Elvis, she appeared unsteady on her feet.

Reflecting on the burden of being born into rock royalty, she once said: “I saw things way too young. Something happens to people around fame and power and money, it can bring out the worst and best in people, it’s a monster you have to tame.”

Lisa Marie Presley left the Church of Scientolog­y in 2014, having gradually distanced herself from the religion – as indicated in a reference to “churches they don’t have a soul” and “religion so corrupt and running lives” in her 2012 album.

She is survived by her daughters.

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 ?? ?? Lisa Marie Presley in 2005, above, and with her mother and father, left: ‘Something happens to people around fame and power and money,’ she once said. ‘It’s a monster you have to tame’
Lisa Marie Presley in 2005, above, and with her mother and father, left: ‘Something happens to people around fame and power and money,’ she once said. ‘It’s a monster you have to tame’

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