Lisa Marie Presley's memorable Memphis moments: Michael Jackson, a concert debut and more
The birth of Lisa Marie Presley was big news in 1968, but Elvis and Priscilla Presley more or less sheltered their daughter from public scrutiny during her childhood, especially after the couple's divorce in 1973.
Lisa Marie did not give her first press interviews until 1988, and those were in tandem with her mother.
But with increasing frequency in the decades of her adulthood before her tragic death Thursday at 54, Lisa Marie Presley found herself in the spotlight. Sometimes she was promoting a record or some other project. Other times the press was interested in her relationships and family members.
Some of the happiest events, apparently, concerned her father. She began to appear with greater frequency at Graceland, and she actively promoted the Baz Luhrmann movie "Elvis," which she called "finally something that myself and my children and their children can be proud of forever.”
Newspapers always were eager to chronicle Lisa Marie's activities, when they were able. So here is a look at some of the events that brought Lisa Marie Presley back to the city of her birth, Memphis.
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Jan. 8, 2023: Elvis' 88th birthday celebration
In what would be her final official Graceland event, Lisa Marie presided over the annual ceremonial cutting of the birthday cake during the celebration of the 88th anniversary of her father's birth in 1935.
Cheered on by what The Commercial Appeal described as "an unusually large gathering of fans" for the January event on the mansion lawn, Lisa Marie — dressed in a long black coat in sunglasses — told the crowd: "It's been a while. I missed you. I keep saying you’re the only people that can bring me out of my house. I’m not kidding... It’s just so moving how every year you come from all over the world. It’s moving to me and my family… so thank you."
Following a busy schedule of 2022 events related to the hit "Elvis" movie, the celebration suggested that Lisa Marie was poised to be an even more active steward and champion of her father's legacy than she had been in the past.
June 11, 2022: Screening of Baz Luhrmann's 'Elvis' at Graceland
Lisa Marie was among the celebrities who hosted a preview screening of "Elvis" at Graceland for local dignitaries and international media representatives, prior to the June 24 wide release of the made-in-Australia biographical motion picture, which went on to earn $151 million at the North American box office, making it the year's highest-grossing non-franchise film.
Also in attendance were most of the lead actors in the cast, including Austin Butler and Tom Hanks; director Baz Luhrmann and his wife, Catherine Martin, the film's production and costume designer; and Lisa Marie's mother, Priscilla Presley, and daughters, including actress Riley Keough.
The event continued what had been an ongoing mutual admiration society for the Presleys and the filmmakers. Said Lisa Marie: "In my life, it's been one disappointment after another, in terms of people portraying my father. Bless their hearts, I'm sure they meant well." But, "Austin, he — what's the word? — he nailed it."
Aug. 15, 2012: Candlelight vigil at Graceland
Lisa Marie made her first appearance with her mother at the Graceland candlelight vigil, the annual procession to the Presley gravesite that recognizes the Aug. 16, 1977, death of Elvis Presley. "I've always avoided this because I felt it would be too emotional," Lisa Marie told the crowd, which police estimated at 75,000 people.
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Jan. 8, 2010: Celebrating Elvis' 75th
Braving sub-freezing temperatures, Lisa Marie and her two oldest children, Riley Keough and Benjamin Keough, made a rare joint Graceland appearance in recognition of what would have been Elvis' 75th birthday, with Riley and Benjamin cutting the cake.
Benjamin, 27, died by suicide in Calabasas, California, 10 years later, and is now interred at the Graceland Meditation Garden, where Lisa Marie also will be buried.
June 30, 2006: US president, Japanese prime minister tour Graceland
Lisa Marie Presley and Priscilla Presley conducted President George W. Bush, first lady Laura Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on a tour of Graceland. The event was the first tour of Graceland by a sitting U.S. president.
"It is like a dream," enthused Koizumi, breaking into an imitation of Elvis' version of "The Impossible Dream." He also, according to The Commercial Appeal, put "his arm around Elvis' daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, the popular prime minister with the Hollywood mane tried out his signature Elvis tune, singing 'Hold me close, hold me tight...'"
Aug. 1, 2003: Memphis concert debut
In support of her first album, "To Whom It May Concern," Lisa Marie made her concert debut in her hometown at the Memphis Botanic Garden. According to The Commercial Appeal, the sell-out crowd was more interested in the opening act, Lisa Marie, than in the headliner, Chris Isaak.
According to the newspaper, Presley was "dressed very L.A., in a glam/slacker/biker fashion pastiche.... sexy yet tough..." Said Lisa Marie to the crowd: "This is the second gig I've played where people are eating and drinking... I feel I'm distracting you."
She later confessed she was so nervous that she threw up backstage, before the show. Her next Memphis concert was on May 1, 2005, during the Beale Street Music Festival.
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July 10, 2001: Apartment complex opening
Her "bare midriff sandwiched between a print blouse and low-slung black leather pants," Lisa Marie used the same golden scissors alleged to have cut the Graceland ribbon in 1982 to open a MIFA-managed 12-unit apartment complex for the homeless, funded by the proceeds of an Elvis memorabilia auction. She was accompanied by her future husband, actor Nicolas Cage; punk rock icon Johnny Ramone; and Cage's father, August Coppola, brother of director Francis Ford Coppola.
Oct. 4, 1997: Memphis Scientology mission
Lisa Marie and Oscar-winning Memphis musician Isaac Hayes opened a Memphis Scientology mission at 1440 Central in a public ceremony; also in attendance were actresses Juliette Lewis ("Natural Born Killers") and Jenna Elfman ("Dharma & Greg"). Lisa Marie reportedly disassociated herself from Scientology in 2014.
Oct. 8, 1994: Elvis tribute at the Pyramid with Michael Jackson
The celebrities in the crowd were bigger than the celebrities onstage when Lisa Marie and her husband of five months, pop superstar Michael Jackson, occupied by skybox at the Pyramid during "Elvis Aaron Presley: The Tribute," a sold-out concert extravaganza and pay-per-view cable television special with an eclectic lineup that included Aaron Neville, Tony Bennett, Iggy Pop, Marty Stuart, Sammy Hagar, Dwight Yoakam, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, among others.
Joining the married couple in the skybox were Priscilla Presley and Michael's star sister, Janet Jackson. Hoping for a glimpse of the relative newlyweds, fans staked out the Downtown Adams Mark Hotel, where Michael and Lisa Marie stayed.
"All they've been ordering is fruit trays," a hotel employee told The Commercial Appeal. "Exotic fruit — papayas, kiwi, watermelon. They eat all of it."
Later in the week, the couple visited with patients at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Feb. 1, 1968: First Memphis 'appearance'
"It's Daddy Elvis" proclaimed a headline in the Memphis Press-Scimitar, reporting that Priscilla Presley, Elvis' wife, had given birth to the couple's first child: 6-pound, 15-ounce Lisa Marie Presley. "The young lady will have to wait a few days to hear lullabies from her father," the newspaper added, noting that hospital rules required new mothers to stay in bed about four days.
When Elvis and Priscilla did take Lisa Marie home, Elvis let a crowd of about 100 fans waiting outside the old Baptist Hospital on Union Avenue to get a gander. "Playing the proud father role, Elvis Presley asked, 'You want to see the baby?' As her father fumbled the pink and white blankets away from 4-day-old Lisa Marie Presley's face, she rewarded the crowd with a sleepy grin."
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Lisa Marie Presley in Memphis: Michael Jackson, Elvis' birthday, more