It’s been 40 years since the King of rock ’n’ roll, Elvis Presley, passed away tragically at age 42 in his iconic Graceland mansion, but his legacy and the fascination surrounding it have never faded away. Every year following his death, new facts are uncovered about Presley — including even some of his unexpected musical tastes.
In an interview with Yahoo Music conducted in the foyer of Graceland’s Peacock Room in 2013 — a rare instance when a camera crew was allowed inside the late legend’s home — Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie, recalled her father’s preoccupation with one of these: fellow multidecade icon Elton John.
“The last Christmas I remember here, I was getting Elton John records,” she noted. “[My dad] wanted to know who he was, and why was I listening to him. He wanted to get a record so he could hear it. I think it was the Yellow Brick Road album, or the one before that. He really, really wanted to know who this was that I was listening to that was not him!”
Apparently, John reciprocated Presley’s fascination — even going so far as to wear a suit reportedly given to him by the King during his mid-’80s “Breaking Hearts” tour.
Lisa Marie added that — her Elton album collection notwithstanding — there was also plenty of listening to her father going on at Graceland as well, in the famously Polynesian-themed Jungle Room. “There’s a red light that would go on when he was [recording],” she recollected. “‘Moody Blue,’ I remember him doing that in there [in 1976]. I remember him singing ‘Little Darlin”’ in there. I was right outside. … Everybody had to be quiet and the red light would go on. Everybody was dead quiet. It was very exciting.”
The elder Presley’s penchant for performing was clearly a trait his daughter inherited — long before she started her own musical career in adulthood with her solo albums To Whom It May Concern, Now What, and Storm & Grace. She remembered a special moment in her dad’s bedroom where she was caught practicing her chops: “I don’t remember what I was singing, but it was upstairs in his room. It was in his closet; he has a walk-in. There’s a closet in between my room and his room. He has a big three-way mirror, and I was standing there. He was in the hallway looking through the door in the crack. I could see his form through the crack. I was just going at it, and my hairbrush, singing away in the mirror. I must have been 3.”
When asked what professional advice she might have received from her father, had he lived to witness her own musical career, she mused, “I really feel that he would be really sensitive to and concerned over people comparing me to him. … 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 think that he would have been very, very concerned, sensitive, and protective about that with me, because he knew that it would come with the territory.”
Elvis’s bedroom is located on the second floor of Graceland, which is kept private from fans and tours. The singer died on Aug. 16, 1977, in the bedroom’s adjoining bathroom, due to what was officially ruled a heart attack. The funeral was held in Graceland’s Peacock Room the following day.
“A lot of the funerals were all in this room,” recalled Lisa Marie as she sat with Yahoo Music in the historic home and pointed behind her. “So I think of those things. My grandfather and my father, they were right in here.”
An annual candlelight vigil was held the night of August 15, where Lisa Marie was present, lit candles with mourners, and joined them for a procession throughout the grounds of the estate.