Lisa Marie Presley has died after suffering a cardiac arrest at her home in Calabasas, Calif., on Thursday morning. The singer-songwriter, humanitarian, and only child of rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Elvis Presley was 20 days shy of her 55th birthday.
“It is with a heavy heart that I must share the devastating news that my beautiful daughter Lisa Marie has left us,” Lisa Marie’s mother, Priscilla, confirmed in a statement Thursday evening. “She was the most passionate, strong, and loving woman I have ever known. We ask for privacy as we try to deal with this profound loss. Thank you for the love and prayers. At this time there will be no further comment.”
According TMZ, who first broke the news of the heart attack, Lisa Marie was found unresponsive by her housekeeper on Thursday morning. Her ex-husband Danny Keough, with whom she lived, administered CPR until paramedics arrived. After her pulse was restored, she was taken to a nearby Intensive Care Unit and placed on life support, in an induced coma, with a temporary pacemaker. According to TMZ’s sources, Lisa Marie had complained of stomach pains earlier Thursday morning, and this was not a suicide attempt. Lisa Marie’s father and paternal grandmother also both died from heart attacks at young ages, respectively at 42 and 46.
Lisa Marie’s death occurred just two days after she and her mother attended the Golden Globes ceremony to support Austin Butler, who won the award for Best Actor in a Drama Film for his portrayal of her father in Elvis — Butler acknowledged Lisa Marie in his Globes acceptance speech, saying, “I love you forever” — and just four days after her father’s 88th birthday. Lisa celebrated her father’s birthday Sunday at a ceremony on the front lawn of her childhood home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tenn., telling fans attending the annual event, “This year has been an incredible year. The movie is incredible. I’m very proud of it, and I hope you are too.”
Lisa Marie Presley was born in Memphis on Feb. 1, 1968, exactly nine months after her parents’ wedding. She had a tough childhood, with her parents divorcing when she was age 4 and her father dying when she was 9. According to an interview that Lisa Marie granted to Playboy in 2003, Priscilla’s post-divorce boyfriend, actor Michael Edwards, sexually abused Lisa Marie for three years, starting when she was 12 years old. Lisa Marie was raised as a Scientologist, but according to various reports quietly left the Church some time between 2012 and 2014.
When Elvis Presley died in 1977, Lisa Marie became a joint heir to his estate, along with her grandfather and great-grandmother. At that point the estate was only worth a reported $5 million; however, Priscilla, a trustee in Elvis’s will, was able to build that fortune back up to an estimated $100 million by the time Lisa Marie solely inherited the estate on her 25th birthday in 1993. Lisa Marie was the owner and chairman of the board of the Elvis Presley Trust and its business entity, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., from 1998 until 2005, when she sold 85% of the estate, not including Graceland, to CKX, Inc.
In 2003, Lisa Marie launched her own rock music career, at the relatively late age of 35, with To Whom It May Concern, which featured illustrious personnel like Billy Corgan, David Campbell, Jon Brion, Matt Chamberlain, Mike Elizondo, Abe Laboriel Jr., and Wendy Melvoin; went gold; and peaked No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album garnered mostly positive reviews, as did her next two LPs: 2005’s Now What (which went to No. 9 and featured a cover of Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry,” a seeming jab at the tabloids’ constant scrutiny of her personal life) and 2012’s T Bone Burnett-produced Storm & Grace (whose track “So Long” was a seeming jab at the Church of Scientology).
However, Lisa Marie, who actually released several posthumous duets with her father (“Don’t Cry Daddy,” “In the Ghetto,” and “Where No One Stands Alone”), was well aware that comparisons to Elvis were unavoidable. Speaking to Yahoo Entertainment in the Peacock Room at Graceland in 2013, Lisa Marie stressed, “I never tried to be [my father]. I’m my own [artist]. It’s kind of an ever-looming thing over me. Some people that differentiate it and go, ‘OK, I appreciate you for what you do’… and some people can’t get over it. My mom has always been concerned, similarly — she knew I had big shoes to fill, and she’s been concerned and worried, because I did grow up against a lot. Automatically, it happens. Thank God there are a lot of people out there that do see beyond it or see me for who I am, and I appreciate that.”
Also in her Yahoo Entertainment interview, Lisa Marie said she believed her father “would be really sensitive to and concerned over people comparing me to him… like, ‘You don’t sound like him!’ and ‘You’re not him!’ and all that kind of stuff. I know that he would be probably really protective and probably gearing me up to deal with that criticism which is going to happen. I feel he would be really concerned about that, because that’s what I focus on with my children — like, ‘This is what you’re going to be up against.’”
Lisa Marie was married four times: to musician Danny Keough from 1988 to 1994, to pop superstar and childhood friend Michael Jackson from 1994 to 1996, to actor Nicolas Cage from 2002 (although they separated after just three months), and to music producer Michael Lockwood from 2006 to 2021 (they separated in 2016). She had two children from her first marriage, actress/model daughter Riley Keough and son Benjamin Storm Keough, and two from her fourth, fraternal twin girls Harper Vivienne Ann and Finley Aaron Love Lockwood. In July 2020, tragedy struck the Presley family yet again, when Benjamin died by suicide at age 27.
“It’s a real choice to keep going, one that I have to make every single day and one that is constantly challenging to say the least. … But I keep going for my girls,” Lisa Marie wrote for People in August last year, in honor of National Grief Awareness Day. “I keep going because my son made it very clear in his final moments that taking care of his little sisters and looking out for them were on the forefront of his concerns and his mind. He absolutely adored them and they him.”
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