Looking back on Elvis and his daughter, Lisa Marie, 1993

The guns, drugs, Harley-Davidson golf carts… Some aspects of the King’s life had been alarming

The cover story of the Observer Magazine of 30 May 1993 was Gordon Burn’s long feature on Elvis’s legacy – psychological and financial – as Lisa Marie Presley inherited her father’s $100m estate at 25 (‘Princess Graceland: The Presley Heiress’).

For a while it looked as if Colonel Tom Parker’s infamous 50% commission on Elvis’s earnings was going to mean there would be nothing left to leave his sole heir. But that was until Lisa Marie’s mother, Priscilla, decided to open Graceland, their home, to the public.’ The house made $20m a year at the time – more than Elvis himself made in any one year.

Pretty much all the details Burn includes are hair-raising: the guns, the drugs, the drink, the paranoia. ‘Eventually, Elvis’s consumption of drugs seemed as normal to me as watching him eat a pound of bacon with his Spanish omelette,’ Priscilla wrote in her memoir.

Lisa Marie was Elvis’s ‘Princess’ – as Burn argued, a term of affection with ‘overtones of sentimentality, swagger and proprietorial interest’ – and before she was even in school he had given her a present of a Harley-Davidson golf cart inscribed with her name.

Elvis and Priscilla shared custody of their daughter from 1972. ‘He’d send his jet, the Lisa Marie, to take her from LA to Utah, so she could play in the snow,’ wrote Burn.

‘Lisa Marie was so used to seeing people jump at her father’s command, that she took years to overcome this habit,’ recalled Priscilla.

She was ‘born to be tabloid fodder – part of the great celebrity soap-go-round’, Burn melancholically noted Graceland’s ‘climate-controlled tableau of Lisa Marie’s nursery things: a Busy Barbie colouring book, a tiny dress, a canopied crib…’

But as Lisa Marie herself insisted in a rare interview given around about the same time: ‘I had the best times of my life growing up at Graceland.’


Chris Hall

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
From the archive: Elvis remembered, 1980
After the death of the King, rare insights into his early years. By Chris Hall

Chris Hall

24, May, 2020 @5:00 AM

Article image
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
Presley was rushed to hospital on Thursday night after suffering a suspected cardiac arrest

Sian Cain

13, Jan, 2023 @6:34 AM

Article image
From the archive: with Nirvana in New York, August 1993
A poignant interview with Kurt Cobain, less than a year before his death. By Chris Hall

Chris Hall

20, Sep, 2020 @5:00 AM

Article image
Mick Jagger approaches his 50th birthday, 1993
Had the ageing Rolling Stones singer joined the English gentry? He denied it. By Chris Hall

Chris Hall

17, Jul, 2022 @5:00 AM

Article image
Priscilla Presley: 'My fear is that people will forget about Elvis'
The businesswoman, 71, on meeting Elvis at 14, getting older and growing up in the spotlight

Shahesta Shaitly

22, Oct, 2016 @1:00 PM

Article image
Lisa Marie Presley: moving on from Memphis
Lisa Marie Presley was nine when Elvis died and she inherited a crushing legacy of global fame. Ever since she's been struggling to find a reality of her own. She talks frankly to Michael Bracewell about family, marriages and the compulsion, finally, to create music herself.

Michael Bracewell

07, Jun, 2003 @1:30 AM

Article image
From the archive: looking back at Greta Garbo’s private world, 1979
The actor knew she could never really be happy, but somehow she got by in her pink apartment in New York

Chris Hall

29, Aug, 2021 @5:00 AM

Article image
Lisa Marie Presley – review
The glamour of her black and satin outfit can't hide the terror in those familiar, kohl-ringed eyes as she starts to sing, writes Betty Clarke

Betty Clarke

05, Oct, 2012 @4:57 PM

Article image
Lisa Marie Presley obituary
Daughter of Elvis Presley who spent her life in the spotlight and forged her own career as a singer

Michael Carlson

13, Jan, 2023 @3:05 PM

Article image
From the archive: looking back at the fiery life of Vivien Leigh
Ten years after her death, a stilted and rather unfair portrait of the great actress

Chris Hall

08, Aug, 2021 @5:00 AM