|Actor, Below The Line|
|February 1, 1968|
LATEST NEWS AND BLOGS
Born to Elvis and Priscilla Beaulieu Presley on Feb. 1, 1968, Elvis' only daughter spent the first five years of her life at the fabled Presley estate, Graceland, in Memphis, TN. Elvis had been a poor kid from the projects, so from the beginning, he lavished his only child with gold rings, a fur bedroom and her own golf cart. One day when the Southern gal mentioned she had never seen snow, Elvis jetted her off to the mountains of Idaho for a half hour of winter play, with the family back home in Memphis by dinner. When her parents divorced in 1973, her mother received custody of the King's sole heir and relocated to Los Angeles, where she prepared to pursue an acting career. The family remained close, with both exes determined not to expose their young daughter to any unpleasantness. Presley saw her father as often as she could, which sometimes meant going on tour with him or spending summers at Graceland, where she would enjoy afternoons of taunting tourists who came by, hoping to catch a glimpse of her dad.
Unfortunately, Presley was there visiting on Aug. 16, 1977 - the day the King died of reported cardiac arrhythmia from an intake of a large amount of prescription drugs. Newspapers were full of reports of the little girl circling the lawn on her golf cart as the streets filled with throngs of grieving fans. Her mother was now more than ever, determined to shield her from the media uproar and the rabid intensity of Elvis fans.
When Presley reached school age, Priscilla was already dealing with a forlorn, unusually dark little girl, who spent most of her time listening to records and playing alone. She ended up being cycled through French school, boarding schools, and schools full of other celebrity kids, all of which the young girl found distasteful. The melancholic kid evolved into a goth teen on a self-destructive streak that included several years of drugs, bad boyfriends and dropping out of high school. She spent time bumming around Europe, holding down a 9-to-5 office job, as her inheritance was not set to kick in until she was 30 years of age. She started talking about a recording career around the age of 17, but the thought of filling dad's size 11 sh s was too overwhelming for the underdeveloped talent. Priscilla began giving her daughter an active role in managing Elvis' estate when she turned 18 - a huge undertaking involving licensing, merchandising, publishing, and finance that began to give the directionless young woman a bit of an anchor. Mom and daughter moved to Clearwater, FL, where Presley began taking classes at the local Scientology center. The two women had been introduced to the "religion" by John Travolta in 1979, and however controversial, did seem to bring the teen out of her solitary shell and reunite her with her mother with a new level of maturity and understanding.
While studying at the Scientology Center, Presley fell in love with musician and fellow Scientologist, Danny Keough. Keough and a pregnant Presley married on Oct. 3, 1988 in a family ceremony at Hollywood's Church of Scientology. Not long afterwards, Presley and Priscilla, both of whom had shunned the spotlight since Elvis' death, gave their first interview to Life magazine. Several years into her marriage, Presley confided in her husband that she wanted to sing. Keough encouraged her by building a rehearsal studio in their home and helping her put together songs, as he learned she had been avidly creative writing since she was a teen. Family friend and former Beach Boys manager Jerry Schilling was impressed enough with what he heard, that he facilitated a record deal with Epic. Despite the wheels being set in motion, a panic-stricken Presley, who lacked confidence and still had misgivings about how she would be received as Elvis' daughter, found out she was pregnant with her second child and once again put music on the back burner.
In 1993, Keough and Presley divorced after eight years. They remained self-proclaimed best friends and continued to share the responsibilities of raising their children. Not long after the divorce, Presley made headlines with unbelievable rumors that she and Michael Jackson - the self-proclaimed "King of Pop" - had wed. As crazy as it seemed, it turned out to be true, with the unlikely couple having tied the knot in the Dominican Republic on May 26, 1994. The King of Pop and the King's daughter had first met when 7-year-old Presley attended several of his shows in Las Vegas, NV. When they met again as adults, things moved very quickly - suspiciously so - with Jackson proposing after only four months. Headlines speculated that he was taking advantage of her to gain access to the Elvis catalog or draw attention away from his legal troubles. They also speculated that she was taking advantage of him to launch a music career. In desperate attempts to defend their marriage as true love, they were interviewed on "20/20" (ABC, 1978- ) and had a spectacularly long, uneasy kiss staged at the MTV Music Awards later that year. But things fell apart quickly, largely due to Lisa Marie's longtime practice of trying to stay out of the spotlight and Jackson's apparent obsession with staying in it. Surprising no one, she filed for divorce in early 1996. Following the divorce, she was plagued with one illness after another, developing allergies, panic attacks, and having her gallbladder removed. The media speculated that she was suicidal, but it turned out Presley was suffering from toxic amounts of mercury from nine fillings.
Presley's procrastinated music career got a nudge forward in 1997, when she agreed to sing a duet of "Don't Cry Daddy" along with a track of her late father (a la Natalie Cole's "Unforgettable") for a tribute on the 20th anniversary of Elvis' death. She had been writing a lot of material about the changes in her life over the past decade, and inspired by the self-revelatory nature of Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill," she contacted the record's producer Glen Ballard. Ballard was impressed enough with Presley's deep, dark songs to sign her to a deal with his EMI imprint, Java Records. She and Ballard worked on an album for two years, during which time Presley became engaged to Hawaiian singer-songwriter, John Oszajca. In 2000, a change in management meant Capitol Records and President Andy Slater inherited Presley's unfinished debut. Slater brought in producer Eric Rosse, who had scored two hit albums for Tori Amos, and Presley's project was scrapped and re-recorded with an emphasis on capturing the soul of this complicated, mature talent. Meanwhile Presley and Oszajca called off their engagement and Presley paired up with oddball actor Nicholas Cage. Their fiery relationship was on-again/off-again from the beginning, culminating in a three-month marriage in late 2002.
In April of 2003, Lisa Marie Presley was glad to finally garner media attention for something she had created, rather than for being the daughter or wife of another performer. Her debut album To Whom It May Concern sold 140,000 copies during its first week of release, spawning the singles "Lights Out" (which reached #16 on the UK charts) and "Sinking In." The genre-busting album with edgy, powerful vocals and honest, penetrating lyrics, reached #5 on the Billboard album charts and helped show the world what the King's daughter was truly made of - it certainly was not sugar and spice and everything nice. Presley toured the world in support of the album, the once-reluctant singer learning to overcome her nerves and bring her hard-edged pop rock style to legions of new fans. The interviews and press circuit were even harder for her get used to, as she had never liked talking about herself in public, and thus, spent years misunderstood because of it.
Presley's new career proved to be cathartic. She was re-energized by channeling herself into her music, and unexpectedly rewarded by how powerfully her songs of personal growth, love, and loss had connected with audiences. For her sophomore effort, 2005's Now What, she was joined by Linda Perry, former Four Non-Blondes front woman, who had written and produced with Christina Aguilera, Pink and Gwen Stefani. Perry teamed with Presley to co-write five songs including "Shine," featuring guest vocals with Pink. Now What reached #9 on the Billboard 200 and included the single "Idiot," featuring Sex Pistol, Steve Jones, on guitar, and a cover of Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry" that hit #36 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The album also contained two tributes to guitarist Johnny Ramone, Presley's friend, who had died during the recording of the album.
During that same year, Presley, who had inherited the family estate in 1998, sold 85 percent of the estate's business holdings and turned over management of Graceland to entertainment company (and creator of "American Idol") CKX, Inc. Presley retained ownership of Graceland and the possessions found therein, continuing to visit her childhood home and family headquarters several times a year. Under the leadership of Presley and her mom, the value of the estate and Elvis Presley Enterprises had grown from $5 million to over $300 million dollars.
Presley was a supporter of dozens of charitable foundations, including the Presley Place Foundation for homeless families in Memphis and cancer charities T.J. Martell Foundation and St. Jude's hospitals. She also supported the Scientology-related LEAP (Literacy, Education and Abilities Program) and was active with the church's opposition to psychiatry and the medicating of children with mental disorders. In 2002, she spoke out against medicating children in a testimony before Congress.
In January of 2006, Presley married her guitarist, Michael Lockwood, in Kyoto, Japan. Ex-husband but still best friend, Danny Keough, served as best man. The third generation of Elvis offspring hit the spotlights when Presley and Keough's daughter Riley launched a career as a model, appearing on runways in Milan and in print ads for Dolce & Gabbana, Dior Perfume and Victoria's Secret. Elvis' granddaughter ended up being next in line to inherit Elvis Presley Enterprises - a tremendous responsibility she could learn much about from her own mother.