What Elvis Presley's Longtime Friend Jerry Schilling Wants to See Happen to Graceland

The close friend to the Presley family reveals his hopes for Graceland in the wake of Lisa Marie Presley's death.

Jerry Schilling, one of Elvis Presley's closest friends, is speaking out about what he wants for the future of the Presley estate in the wake of Lisa Marie Presley's death.

Lisa Marie, the only daughter of the late music icon, died at age 54 back in January, prompting disputes about the fate of the Presley estate to ignite shortly after. Her mother, Priscilla Presley, has since filed a petition questioning a 2016 amendment to Lisa Marie's living trust that deferred all control to her two eldest children, Riley Keough and Benjamin Keogh, the latter of whom died in 2020.

While the future of the estate hangs in the balance, Schilling said his main hope is to preserve the treasured Memphis property, as he believes Elvis would have wanted.

"I would like for Graceland itself to stay as it has for the last 45 years, as a piece of history captured in time," Schilling, 81, told PEOPLE in an interview published on Friday, March 10. "I'd like to see it as Elvis left it, as he decorated it, for the generations of the Presley children. It's the White House of rock and roll."

Schilling, a member of Elvis' close-knit group of friends nicknamed the "Memphis Mafia," didn't directly address the family discord over the future of Elvis' estate, but he did insist that Elvis wasn't thinking much about his legacy before his death at age 42 in 1977.

WASHINGTON, DC - Elvis Presley visits President Richard Nixon on <a href="https://parade.com/living/december-holidays-observances" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:December;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">December</a> 21, 1970 at the White House. Sonny West and Jerry Schilling stand between President Nixon and Elvis Presley.<p><a href="https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/74291155" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images</a></p>
WASHINGTON, DC - Elvis Presley visits President Richard Nixon on December 21, 1970 at the White House. Sonny West and Jerry Schilling stand between President Nixon and Elvis Presley.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

"Elvis wasn't that kind of person. He didn't think about longevity, old age," said the talent manager. "He used to always say, 'Look, I don't want to hoard up this money. I want to spend it while we're young. And he was known to give a lot of gifts." 

Instead, Schilling implored, what was most important to Elvis was Lisa Marie. "I lived at Graceland while she was growing up," he recalled. "They had a great chemistry. There was a real father/daughter love there."

"Lisa loved Graceland," Schilling added to the publication. "Always considered it her home, even after her father passed away and she was living [in Los Angeles]. As she got older, she loved taking her kids back to Graceland after it closed." (In addition to Riley and Benjamin, Lisa Marie was also mother to 14-year-old twin daughters Harper and Finley.)

"Some of the housekeepers and cooks were still alive, and she would have dinners," he said. "I've been to a couple of them, with the family, her kids, Priscilla, some of the relatives in Memphis."

"She loved Graceland. It was very personal to her," Schilling stated of Lisa Marie, who is now buried in the Meditation Garden at Graceland, next to her son Benjamin and nearby her father and paternal grandparents. "She was like her father. She would have never given it up."

Next: Lisa Marie Presley's Net Worth—How Much She Inherited From Elvis and Made From Graceland