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

I never ever satisfied Lisa Marie Presley. But we have been children alongside one another. At least, it feels that way.

I’ve never ever heard a single track of hers, and I did not maintain up on her superstar comings and goings. But even now, I’m sad about the dying of a 54-year-old lady I never ever realized.

Maybe it truly is a Gen X or 1970s child issue. When I was minor, she was just one of the several young ones in the public eye who wasn’t a boy or girl actor. Adult celebs came and went, but listed here was Lisa Marie, a different lady about my age, with a community facial area and name. Like me, she did not have a starring part in motion pictures or Tv set shows. Instead, there’d be the occasional photo of her dolled up in a Christmas dress or a little something, posing with her well known sideburned father, who loved her so much he named his plane just after her.

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Elvis’ airplane was named Lisa Marie for his daughter.


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Dads and daughters

Solidarity, sister — I also experienced a sideburned father. It was the 1970s most every single child experienced a sideburned father. Our sideburned dads were not world-famed singers identifiable only by their 1st title, and failed to have planes they named right after us. But they absolutely posed for uncomfortable family members pics searching uncomfortably sweaty and with giant lapels on their jackets, just like Elvis. 

Even her title marked her as 1 of us. The yr I was born, “Lisa” was the most popular toddler-female name in America, and “Marie” undoubtedly appeared like 1 of the most well-known middle names. I have near to a dozen close friends named “Lisa” to this day. Gen X nursing homes can have an overall Lisa wing if they want someday, catering only to aged Lisas. Possibly a number of Kims and Amys.

The 1970s have been this country’s uncomfortable age, and it was kind of an unpleasant time to be a kid. Activities — the Vietnam War, Watergate — were grim. The sights we surrounded ourselves with were not substantially superior: orange shag carpet, avocado appliances, bell-bottoms. 

Do you know wherever your young children are? Nope!

Seventies children weren’t catered to the way they are now. The memes are proper: Your mothers and fathers kicked you out of the dwelling on a summer season early morning and failed to count on to see you all over again until eventually evening meal. 

If Mom essential you in between that time, superior luck. You may be taking part in kickball, or smoking in somebody’s clubhouse, or rambling together the railroad tracks picking burrs out of your Toughskins, or knee-deep in a pond poking at a useless fish, or jeopardizing tetanus playing seize the flag in a junkyard. You may possibly be possessing a blast, you could possibly be becoming bullied, you could possibly be bored out of your skull. Your mothers and fathers by no means knew, and they weren’t going to talk to.

There was no social media of study course, no “influencers.” Incredibly couple of youngsters my age have been renowned. Lisa Marie was one of them. 

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Graceland’s 1970s-model kitchen area is eternally frozen in time, and appears to be a large amount like the a single I grew up with, a thousand miles and a lot of tens of millions of bucks away.


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Losing her father

Lisa Marie had variety of dropped from the spotlight by the time her father, Elvis, died in 1977. Of course, it was big, globe-shaking news. Big headlines and information reports had been everywhere. Elvis was deservedly mourned as a famous singer.

But anything in me remembered that tiny female in the pictures, and realized that even though the earth may have shed an entertainer, there was a child my age who dropped her father. 

She was 9. I was 9. My dad was no Elvis, and he did not have a airplane to name just after me. We did not have Elvis revenue, or initial-course air vacation or extravagant households.   

But Lisa Marie and I ended up both of those 9, and I acquired to switch 10, and 11, and 16, and 25, and 40, and my father was nevertheless all-around, providing assistance and cracking undesirable father jokes and exhibiting up at my school features. Clapping for me at plays, teaching me to drive, strolling me down the aisle, cooing at my child daughter. Lisa Marie didn’t get that. Hundreds of tens of millions of dollars could not invest in that.

That Graceland swing established

Lisa Marie wove in and out of headlines when I received more mature. Her lifestyle seemed extra unreal and difficult than individuals very simple father-and-daughter pictures of the 1970s. She turned a mom when I was nonetheless finishing up college or university and hoping to determine out a path. She married Michael Jackson, and afterwards, Nicolas Cage. She’d occur a extensive way from her girlhood days. We of course had quite minor in widespread apart from our beginning yrs.

But when I visited Graceland in 2017, I felt a kinship with Lisa Marie again. Graceland is a large residence, but it truly is not a Kardashian-style mansion. It felt instantly familiar — a goofy, to some degree awkwardly embellished home of the 1970s, with shag carpet and cumbersome tube TVs and a game space with a cloth ceiling and a rip in the pool-desk canvas where by some family members close friend tried a trick and messed up. 

The metal crimson, white and blue 1970s-type swing set out back again appeared a good deal like a million swing sets I might played on. We lived by means of the bicentennial alongside one another, Lisa Marie and me, and everything was painted red, white and blue.

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Did this Graceland swing established belong to Lisa Marie? The fashion and bicentennial colour scheme is conveniently recognizable to any 1970s child.


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Lisa Marie led a complicated everyday living. The luxuries she knew and the challenges she seasoned, superior and negative, are kinds I’ll under no circumstances understand. But her early, harmless fame burned so massive and so shiny that I hardly ever forgot her. In the stop, she was a mother and daughter, a singer and songwriter, a businesswoman — she was lots of matters. 

But my Gen X coronary heart will mourn her as the minor child with the sideburned dad, who misplaced him way much too quickly.