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Remembering Lisa Marie Presley: ‘I would never take back any part of who I am or where I came from’

<i>L. Busacca/WireImage/Getty Images</i><br/>
L. Busacca/WireImage/Getty Images

By Dan Heching, CNN

As the only daughter of the late Elvis Presley and Priscilla Presley, singer Lisa Marie Presley spent her life in the spotlight from the start.

And the public interest in her life — from her marriages to her private tragedies — never waned until, much like her father, she was taken too soon.

Lisa Marie Presley died Thursday after suffering an apparent cardiac arrest. She was 54.

“Priscilla Presley and the Presley family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Lisa Marie,” said a statement from the family provided to CNN. “They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time.”

Days before her hospitalization, Lisa Marie and Priscilla Presley attended the Golden Globe Awards in support of the Baz Luhrmann film “Elvis,” starring actor Austin Butler, who picked up an award for his portrayal of the King.

Childhood in the spotlight

Born at the height of Elvis’s fame in 1968, Lisa Marie Presley was seen as the princess to the man celebrated as “the King of rock ‘n’ roll.”

Elvis and Priscilla Presley separated in 1972 when their daughter was four years old, and she was only nine when her father died in 1977. He was 42.

Soon, she began acting out and experimenting with drugs, resulting in her mother sending her to a series of private schools, including a boarding school in Ojai. Lisa Marie Presley noted to the Los Angeles Times in 2003 that as a child, she “was kind of a loner, a melancholy and strange child.”

“I had a real self-destructive mode for a while,” she told the publication. “I never really fit into school. I didn’t really have any direction.”

Her own mark in music

She was also the eventual sole heir to Elvis’s estate, as well as his sprawling Memphis, Tennessee mansion Graceland. Her father’s mighty and ever-looming legacy didn’t, however, steer her away from her desire to pursue a career in music in her own right.

Lisa Marie Presley launched her career in 2003 with a debut studio album, “To Whom It May Concern,” which reached No. 5 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and was certified gold that summer. She wrote almost all the lyrics on the album and co-wrote every melody.

At the time, Lisa Marie Presley told Larry King that she had to “park” feelings of pressure and comparison to her legendary singer dad.

“If I had been thinking about that, worrying about that, which I kind of had for a long time I would have never done what was sort of innately in my heart, in my soul,” she said. “So I had to stop being worried about that, it was too intimidating otherwise.”

Also around the same time, Lisa Marie Presley reflected on whether her famous name was a hindrance or a help, telling Playboy that she didn’t “ask tabloids to chase me around every week.”

But, she added, she “would never take back any part of who I am or where I came from.”

“I would never want to be part of anything else,” she said. “I’m honored and proud of my family and my dad.”

That first record was followed by two additional albums, 2005’s “Now What” and “Storm & Grace” in 2012.

High-profile nuptials

Parallel to her musical pursuits, Lisa Marie Presley was married four times, including to music superstar Michael Jackson and actor Nicolas Cage.

She wed musician Danny Keough in 1988, with whom she had a daughter, Riley Keough, and son Benjamin Storm Keough.

The pair divorced in May 1994, and roughly three weeks later, Lisa Marie Presley married Jackson in a ceremony that made headlines worldwide.

She noted of Jackson in a 2003 interview with ABC News and Diane Sawyer: “When he wants to lock into you, when he wants to intrigue you or capture you, or you know, whatever he wants to do with you, he can do it.” She added that she “fell into this whole, ‘You poor, sweet, misunderstood man, I’m going to save you.’ … I fell in love with him.”

Their marriage ended in January 1996.

Two years later, she wed Cage after meeting him at a party, but only stayed married to him for three months, from August to November of 2002. The divorce was finalized in 2004.

Her fourth marriage came in 2006, to her guitarist, music producer and director Michael Lockwood. The pair welcomed twins Finley Aaron Love Lockwood and Harper Vivienne Ann Lockwood in 2008. They divorced in 2016.

Tragedy of losing a child

In 2020, Lisa Marie Presley’s son Benjamin Keough died by suicide at the age of 27. Last July, she marked the second anniversary of Keough’s death on Instagram, sharing a photo of their matching foot tattoos.

Last September, she wrote an essay for National Grief Awareness Day, in which she opened up about the loss of her son.

“My and my three daughters’ lives as we knew it were completely detonated and destroyed by his death. We live in this every. Single. Day,” she wrote. “Grief is something you will have to carry with you for the rest of your life, in spite of what certain people or our culture wants us to believe. You do not ‘get over it,’ you do not ‘move on,’ period.”

Presley also said in the essay that she found comfort in the company of people who have faced similar tragedy, adding that her daughters help keep her grounded.

“I keep going for my girls,” she wrote. “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.”

‘May she be at peace’

Tributes to Lisa Marie Presley poured in as news of her passing spread.

“This is devastating news. Lisa had the greatest laugh of anyone I ever met. She lit up every room, and I am heartbroken,” Cage said in a statement provided by his manager Mike Nilon on Thursday. “I find some solace believing she is reunited with her son Benjamin.”

On Friday, Luhrmann took to Instagram to pay tribute to Lisa Marie Presley, saying “we will miss your warmth, your smile, your love.”

“Over the last year, the entire ‘Elvis’ movie family and I have felt the privilege of Lisa Marie’s kind embrace. Her sudden, shocking loss has devastated people all around the world,” he wrote.

Actor John Travolta wrote on Thursday that he’d miss his friend “but I know I’ll see you again.”

“My love and heart goes out to Riley, Priscilla, Harper and Finley,” he wrote on Instagram.

Actress Leah Remini said she was “heartbroken over the passing of Lisa Marie Presley,” adding “Lisa did not have an easy life, as some might think.”

“May she be at peace, resting with her son and father now,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Lisa Marie’s final resting place will be at Graceland, next to her beloved son Ben,” a family representative said in a statement to CNN on Friday.

An earlier version of this story misstated the year Finley Aaron Love Lockwood and Harper Vivienne Ann Lockwood were born. It was 2008. The story has been updated to reflect this change.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Chloe Melas, Jacqueline Rose, Steve Forrest and Cheri Mossburg contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Entertainment

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