Lisa Marie Presley: Remembering the Gen X Child Who Shed Her Father

I never ever satisfied Lisa Marie Presley. But we were being children collectively. At least, it feels that way.

I’ve never read a solitary track of hers, and I didn’t hold up on her celeb comings and goings. But even now, I’m unhappy about the demise of a 54-calendar year-outdated girl I never ever knew.

Probably it is a Gen X or 1970s kid matter. When I was tiny, she was one of the couple of youngsters in the public eye who was not a boy or girl actor. Grownup famous people came and went, but listed here was Lisa Marie, one more woman about my age, with a community encounter and name. Like me, she didn’t have a starring aspect in flicks or Tv set shows. Alternatively, there’d be the occasional photograph of her dolled up in a Christmas dress or something, posing with her famed sideburned dad, who liked her so a lot he named his plane following her.

Elvis’ airplane was named Lisa Marie for his daughter.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

Dads and daughters

Solidarity, sister — I also experienced a sideburned father. It was the 1970s most every single child experienced a sideburned dad. Our sideburned dads weren’t earth-well known singers identifiable only by their first title, and failed to have planes they named soon after us. But they certainly posed for awkward family photos wanting uncomfortably sweaty and with large lapels on their jackets, just like Elvis. 

Even her name marked her as one particular of us. The year I was born, “Lisa” was the most preferred baby-woman identify in The us, and “Marie” unquestionably seemed like 1 of the most well known middle names. I have shut to a dozen friends named “Lisa” to this day. Gen X nursing houses can have an entire Lisa wing if they want sometime, catering only to elderly Lisas. Probably a few Kims and Amys.

The 1970s were this country’s uncomfortable age, and it was type of an unpleasant time to be a child. Occasions — the Vietnam War, Watergate — were being grim. The sights we surrounded ourselves with were not considerably superior: orange shag carpet, avocado appliances, bell-bottoms. 

Do you know wherever your kids are? Nope!

Seventies children weren’t catered to the way they are now. The memes are appropriate: Your parents kicked you out of the residence on a summer months morning and didn’t anticipate to see you again till dinner. 

If Mother necessary you in involving that time, great luck. You could possibly be playing kickball, or smoking in somebody’s clubhouse, or rambling along the railroad tracks buying burrs out of your Toughskins, or knee-deep in a pond poking at a lifeless fish, or jeopardizing tetanus participating in capture the flag in a junkyard. You could possibly be having a blast, you may possibly be being bullied, you might be bored out of your skull. Your mother and father hardly ever understood, and they weren’t likely to question.

There was no social media of system, no “influencers.” Quite couple of little ones my age were famous. Lisa Marie was one of them. 


Graceland’s 1970s-design kitchen area is for good frozen in time, and seems a ton like the one I grew up with, a thousand miles and quite a few millions of pounds away.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

Losing her father

Lisa Marie experienced kind of dropped from the spotlight by the time her father, Elvis, died in 1977. Of class, it was huge, earth-shaking news. Giant headlines and information experiences were in all places. Elvis was deservedly mourned as a famous singer.

But a little something in me remembered that tiny lady in the photographs, and knew that even though the globe may have misplaced an entertainer, there was a kid my age who missing her dad. 

She was 9. I was 9. My dad was no Elvis, and he failed to have a airplane to name just after me. We failed to have Elvis money, or initially-class air journey or fancy homes.   

But Lisa Marie and I were both 9, and I received to turn 10, and 11, and 16, and 25, and 40, and my father was still close to, supplying advice and cracking undesirable dad jokes and displaying up at my college features. Clapping for me at plays, training me to drive, strolling me down the aisle, cooing at my infant daughter. Lisa Marie didn’t get that. Hundreds of hundreds of thousands of bucks could not purchase that.

That Graceland swing set

Lisa Marie wove in and out of headlines when I got older. Her daily life seemed a lot more unreal and intricate than these uncomplicated dad-and-daughter images of the 1970s. She turned a mom when I was continue to finishing up college or university and attempting to determine out a path. She married Michael Jackson, and later on, Nicolas Cage. She’d occur a prolonged way from her girlhood times. We certainly experienced really little in typical besides our delivery several years.

But when I visited Graceland in 2017, I felt a kinship with Lisa Marie all over again. Graceland is a big dwelling, but it can be not a Kardashian-model mansion. It felt promptly common — a goofy, fairly awkwardly adorned residence of the 1970s, with shag carpet and cumbersome tube TVs and a game place with a fabric ceiling and a rip in the pool-table canvas where by some loved ones close friend tried a trick and messed up. 

The steel crimson, white and blue 1970s-type swing set out back looked a ton like a million swing sets I’d played on. We lived by way of the bicentennial jointly, Lisa Marie and me, and every thing was painted purple, white and blue.


Did this Graceland swing established belong to Lisa Marie? The design and style and bicentennial color plan is very easily recognizable to any 1970s child.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

Lisa Marie led a complex life. The luxuries she understood and the worries she knowledgeable, excellent and poor, are types I’ll hardly ever recognize. But her early, harmless fame burned so large and so vibrant that I never forgot her. In the end, she was a mother and grandma, a singer and songwriter, a businesswoman — she was quite a few points. 

But my Gen X coronary heart will mourn her as the little kid with the sideburned dad, who lost him way too quickly.