Lisa Marie Presley: Remembering the Gen X Kid Who Lost Her Dad

I by no means met Lisa Marie Presley. However we had been youngsters collectively. No less than, it feels that approach.

I’ve by no means heard a single track of hers, and I did not sustain on her superstar comings and goings. However nonetheless, I am unhappy concerning the dying of a 54-year-old lady I by no means knew.

Perhaps it is a Gen X or Seventies child factor. After I was little, she was one of many few youngsters within the public eye who wasn’t a toddler actor. Grownup celebrities got here and went, however right here was Lisa Marie, one other woman about my age, with a public face and identify. Like me, she did not have a starring half in films or TV reveals. As an alternative, there’d be the occasional photograph of her dolled up in a Christmas costume or one thing, posing along with her well-known sideburned dad, who liked her a lot he named his airplane after her.

Elvis’ airplane was named Lisa Marie for his daughter.

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Dads and daughters

Solidarity, sister — I additionally had a sideburned dad. It was the Seventies; most each child had a sideburned dad. Our sideburned dads weren’t world-famous singers identifiable solely by their first identify, and did not have planes they named after us. However they undoubtedly posed for awkward household images trying uncomfortably sweaty and with big lapels on their jackets, identical to Elvis. 

Even her identify marked her as considered one of us. The 12 months I used to be born, “Lisa” was the preferred baby-girl identify in America, and “Marie” actually appeared like one of the vital standard center names. I’ve near a dozen associates named “Lisa” to today. Gen X nursing properties can have a whole Lisa wing if they need sometime, catering solely to aged Lisas. Perhaps a number of Kims and Amys.

The Seventies had been this nation’s awkward age, and it was sort of an unsightly time to be a child. Occasions — the Vietnam Battle, Watergate — had been grim. The sights we surrounded ourselves with weren’t significantly better: orange shag carpet, avocado home equipment, bell-bottoms. 

Have you learnt the place your youngsters are? Nope!

Seventies youngsters weren’t catered to the way in which they’re now. The memes are proper: Your mother and father kicked you out of the home on a summer time morning and did not anticipate to see you once more till dinner. 

If Mother wanted you in between that point, good luck. You is likely to be enjoying kickball, or smoking in someone’s clubhouse, or rambling alongside the railroad tracks selecting burrs out of your Toughskins, or knee-deep in a pond poking at a lifeless fish, or risking tetanus enjoying seize the flag in a junkyard. You is likely to be having a blast, you is likely to be being bullied, you is likely to be bored out of your cranium. Your mother and father by no means knew, and so they weren’t going to ask.

There was no social media after all, no “influencers.” Only a few youngsters my age had been well-known. Lisa Marie was considered one of them. 


Graceland’s Seventies-style kitchen is endlessly frozen in time, and appears lots just like the one I grew up with, a thousand miles and lots of thousands and thousands of {dollars} away.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

Dropping her dad

Lisa Marie had sort of dropped from the highlight by the point her father, Elvis, died in 1977. In fact, it was large, world-shaking information. Large headlines and information reviews had been all over the place. Elvis was deservedly mourned as a legendary singer.

However one thing in me remembered that little woman within the images, and knew that whereas the world might have misplaced an entertainer, there was a child my age who misplaced her dad. 

She was 9. I used to be 9. My dad was no Elvis, and he did not have a airplane to call after me. We did not have Elvis cash, or first-class air journey or fancy properties.   

However Lisa Marie and I had been each 9, and I acquired to show 10, and 11, and 16, and 25, and 40, and my dad was nonetheless round, providing recommendation and cracking dangerous dad jokes and displaying up at my faculty capabilities. Clapping for me at performs, educating me to drive, strolling me down the aisle, cooing at my child daughter. Lisa Marie did not get that. A whole lot of thousands and thousands of {dollars} could not purchase that.

That Graceland swing set

Lisa Marie wove out and in of headlines once I acquired older. Her life appeared extra unreal and sophisticated than these easy dad-and-daughter images of the Seventies. She turned a mother once I was nonetheless ending up faculty and making an attempt to determine a path. She married Michael Jackson, and later, Nicolas Cage. She’d come a good distance from her girlhood days. We clearly had little or no in widespread moreover our start years.

However once I visited Graceland in 2017, I felt a kinship with Lisa Marie once more. Graceland is a giant home, nevertheless it’s not a Kardashian-style mansion. It felt immediately acquainted — a goofy, considerably awkwardly adorned home of the Seventies, with shag carpet and hulking tube TVs and a recreation room with a material ceiling and a rip within the pool-table canvas the place some household pal tried a trick and tousled. 

The steel crimson, white and blue Seventies-style swing set out again regarded lots like 1,000,000 swing units I might performed on. We lived via the bicentennial collectively, Lisa Marie and me, and the whole lot was painted crimson, white and blue.


Did this Graceland swing set belong to Lisa Marie? The model and bicentennial colour scheme is definitely recognizable to any Seventies child.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

Lisa Marie led a sophisticated life. The luxuries she knew and the challenges she skilled, good and dangerous, are ones I will by no means perceive. However her early, harmless fame burned so massive and so shiny that I by no means forgot her. In the long run, she was a mother and daughter, a singer and songwriter, a businesswoman — she was many issues. 

However my Gen X coronary heart will mourn her because the little child with the sideburned dad, who misplaced him approach too quickly.

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