February 5, 2023

MEMPHIS — Some wrote messages on the stone wall in front of Graceland, the storied Memphis mansion that housed Elvis Presley’s studded jumpsuits and his private plane, the Lisa Marie, customized with gold bathroom fixtures. Others left flowers.

A day after the death of Lisa Marie Presley, 54, the singer-songwriter and only child of Elvis, fans mourned her loss and recalled how the Presleys had touched their lives.

At Graceland on Friday, Stephanie T. Perez, whose aunt taught Elvis in school and whose grandfather worked for him as an upholsterer, said she had visited the same spot with her mother years ago, when the king of rock ’n’ roll had died. She was 2.

“I just felt it was important to be on this street the day his daughter passed away,” Ms. Perez, now 47, said. “You hate it for them. You hate it for Elvis’s legacy. You hate it for her life that was cut short. But most of all, just sorrow for the kids and Priscilla.”

Now Lisa Marie Presley, who owns the mansion and original grounds at Graceland, will be buried there, according to the Lede Co., which represents her daughter Riley Keough. “Lisa Marie’s final resting place will be at Graceland, next to her beloved son Ben,” it said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear on Friday what had caused Ms. Presley’s death. Her mother, Priscilla Presley, said in a statement on Thursday that her daughter had been receiving medical attention but did not share more information. “She was the most passionate, strong and loving woman I have ever known,” Ms. Presley said.

Lisa Marie Presley was famous from the moment she was born, the daughter of one of the biggest stars in the world. And while she would go on to try to forge her own path as a singer, she remained best known as a kind of rock star royalty: She was the only daughter of Elvis and, from 1994 to 1996, she was married to Michael Jackson.

But she led a tumultuous life, one that was buffeted by loss. She lost her father when she was 9. Married and divorced four times, she also struggled with opioid addiction. Her son, Benjamin Keough, died by suicide in 2020. Less than six months before her own death, she wrote about grieving his loss, saying that it had “destroyed” her but that she kept going for the sake of her three daughters.

Fans mourned her outside Graceland, the eclectic eight-bedroom residence in Memphis that Ms. Presley inherited after her father’s death and which opened to the public as a museum in 1982.

Graceland has housed more than a million artifacts, among them a fake-fur cocoon bed with a stereo in the canopy. Then there is Mr. Presley’s private plane, the Lisa Marie, which had four TVs and a stereo with 52 speakers.

Within hours of the announcement of Ms. Presley’s death late Thursday, about a dozen Elvis fans arrived at Graceland, bundled up in coats and gloves on a blustery chilly night

Kimber Tomlinson, 49, recalled how Elvis fans in Memphis had been smitten from the start with Lisa Marie, who was so well-known here that nobody seemed to feel the need to use her last name. Her first memory of Elvis, she added, was when her mother took her to Graceland about a week or so after his funeral.

“It’s sad, so sad,” Ms. Tomlinson said. “Her life was always in the spotlight,” she added, referring to Lisa Marie. “That family has had their share of heart attacks and heartbreaks.”

Ms. Tomlinson recited the long history of loss among the Presley family: Gladys, Elvis’s mother died at age 46 in 1948; Elvis died in 1977 of heart failure at age 42; Lisa Marie’s son, Benjamin Keough, died by suicide in 2020 at age 27; and now there was Lisa Marie’s death.

The sprawling estate opened for business as usual on Friday, just days after Ms. Presley had joined fans at the mansion on Sunday to celebrate what would have been Elvis’s 88th birthday.

Jason Hanley, the vice president of education at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, observed that Ms. Presley’s death was a cultural touchstone of sorts because she was the daughter of the “King of Rock ’n’ Roll” and had been married to the “King of Pop.” Her death, he said, was imbued with a particular wistfulness and nostalgia for an era that had changed American music.

“She was the heir to Elvis’s empire and rock ’n’ roll royalty, and she recorded three great albums in which she wanted to say something about herself in the shadow of her father’s legacy,” he said. “Her death is heartbreaking for us because it marks the passage of time.”

One of her former husbands, the actor Nicolas Cage, told The Hollywood Reporter he was devastated by Ms. Presley’s death. “Lisa had the greatest laugh of anyone I ever met,” he was quoted as saying. “She lit up every room, and I am heartbroken.” The Michael Jackson estate said in a statement that Jackson had “cherished the special bond” he and Ms. Presley shared and that he was “comforted by Lisa Marie’s generous love, concern and care during their times together.”

Ms. Presley released three albums in which she set out to forge her own musical path while drawing from the music of her father, whose singular cocktail of blues, gospel, pop and country made him the first huge rock star and transformed American music.

She said she had been hesitant to lean on her family name. But she was overruled by her record label, which made the personal “Lights Out” — “Someone turned the lights out there in Memphis. That’s where my family’s buried and gone” — her debut single in 2003.

Her father’s larger-than-life legacy remained with her right until her final days. On Tuesday, she was again conjuring him at the Golden Globes, telling a television host that Austin Butler, who won the lead acting award for drama for his performance in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic “Elvis,” had perfectly embodied her father.

But at Graceland on Friday, it was Lisa Marie that Presley fans remembered. Perez left her own message on Graceland’s wall: “Godspeed, LMP.”

Cindy Wolff contributed reporting from Memphis, and Nicole Sperling from Los Angeles.

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