The tragic life of Lisa Marie Presley: How Elvis' only daughter suffered the early death of a parent, failed marriages and the grief of losing a son

13 January 2023, 08:13 | Updated: 13 January 2023, 13:16

As the only child of the "King of Rock 'n' Roll", Lisa Marie Presley's life was one of music royalty.

With the prestigious Presley name and as the sole heir to Elvis' Graceland estate, rock music's first princess was born into fame and fortune.

Presley, who died aged 54 on Thursday after suffering a cardiac arrest at her home in Calabasas, California, would find renown of her own, launching a music career that would see her score two US top 10 albums.

But her life would be one beset by tragedy, including the death of her legendary musician father when she was just nine years old and the loss of her son.

She would also have four high-profile separations, including from the singer Michael Jackson, and a fateful 107-day marriage to the actor Nicholas Cage.

Tragedy at the age of nine

Born in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, at the tail-end of "Elvis-mania", news of Lisa Marie's birth was celebrated like that of traditional royalty.

But her family life would soon be torn apart by infidelity.

After claims of affairs on both sides, Priscilla's affair with her karate teacher proved the final straw in the couple's already tumultuous marriage.

The pair eventually separated later that year, in 1972.

Lisa Marie, then aged four, would spend her childhood between her mother's Californian home and her father's estate of Graceland in Memphis.

Her mother would later enter a relationship with actor Michael Edwards, who Lisa Marie would accuse in a 2003 interview of "coming into my room and being inappropriate while drunk" when she was a teenager.

Tragedy struck again when Lisa Marie was just nine years old, when her father died at the age of just 42 after suffering a heart attack.

During her school years, she began to experiment with drugs, leading her mother to send her to a series of private schools and at one point a boarding school.

Speaking about her school years in a 2003 interview with the LA Times, she said: "(I) was kind of a loner, a melancholy and strange child.

"I had a real self-destructive mode for a while.

"I never really fit into school. I didn't really have any direction."

Failed first marriage and ill-fated second with Michael Jackson

After dropping out of high school in her Junior year, Lisa Marie was sent to the Scientology Celebrity Center for drug rehabilitation, where she would meet her first husband, musician Danny Keough.

The pair married in 1988 and had two children; Riley, who is now an actress and model, and Benjamin.

Just three weeks after her divorce from Keough was finalised in 1994, Lisa Marie got married to the singer Michael Jackson, following his proposal over the phone.

The pair soon went to the Dominican Republic, where Lisa Marie filed a quick divorce to Keough, then wed Jackson in private.

She later publicly announced the wedding, by saying: "My married name is Mrs Lisa Marie Presley-Jackson. My marriage to Michael Jackson took place in a private ceremony outside the United States weeks ago."

Read more:
Elvis' only daughter dies at the age of 54
Lisa Marie discusses her "biggest flaws" in 2012 interview

But their marriage was rocked by the emerging allegations of child abuse against Jackson.

The singer reportedly became dependent on Lisa Marie for emotional support, while she became concerned about his use of sedative drugs.

Lisa Marie later said in an interview with Rolling Stone that she had hoped to "save" the troubled singer.

The marriage was dogged by theories the pair had an asexual relationship, leading to Lisa Marie appearing in a suggestive video for his 1995 hit You Are Not Alone.

But a year later, in 1996, the pair divorced.

A 107-day marriage to Nicholas Cage

The couple attempted to reconcile over the next four years. However, in 2000, Lisa Marie would enter a new relationship with singer John Oszajca.

But she dramatically broke off their engagement after meeting actor Nicholas Cage at a party.

The pair married in August 2002. But just 107 days later, their marriage ended in divorce.

Speaking to Larry King about the marriage in 2003, she said: "It looked attractive, like I could be equal. Similar situations, similar backgrounds.

"So we connected, we had a great connection.

"It was kind of one of those things where you marry someone hoping... to either stabilise [my life] or it's going to, you know, accentuate all that was going on prior to what was problematic.

"So it kind of did the latter, that's all."

Bitter divorce battle

Four years later, Lisa Marie married again, this time to guitarist and music producer Michael Lockwood, with her former husband Keough serving as best man at the couple's ceremony.

The pair had twins, Finley and Harper, in 2008.

But their 10-year marriage ended in an acrimonious divorce in 2016, during which Lockwood attempted to lay claim to some of Lisa Marie's substantial estate, despite a prenuptial agreement.

After a bitter battle, Lisa Marie's inheritance was protected and their divorce was finalised in 2021.

Following in her father's footsteps

There were happier times for Lisa Marie, however.

She followed in her father's footsteps by pursuing a music career, starting in 2003 with her debut album: To Whom It May Concern.

It charted in the top 10 on the US Billboard album chart, as did follow-up record Now What in 2005.

Fans had to wait seven years for her third album, Storm And Grace, which was released to positive reviews.

The name of the album is believed to have been inspired partly by her son Benjamin, whose middle name is Storm.

In 2018, Presley featured on a new record, titled Where No One Stands Alone, which was released to celebrate her father's love of gospel music, and featured 14 original performances recorded by him.

The title track was a reimagined duet, in which Lisa Marie's vocals featured alongside those of her father.

The death of her son

However, her life continued to be plagued by tragic twists.

Lisa Marie described being "shattered" by the news of Jackson's death, at the age of 50, in 2009.

And in 2020 her son, Benjamin, took his own life at the age of 27.

Last year, she wrote an essay for People magazine about his death.

"I've dealt with death, grief and loss since the age of nine years old," she said.

"I've had more than anyone's fair share of it in my lifetime and somehow, I've made it this far."

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