Lisa Marie Presley: Remembering the Gen X Child Who Misplaced Her Dad

I by no means met Lisa Marie Presley. However we had been youngsters collectively. At the very least, it feels that manner.

I’ve by no means heard a single tune of hers, and I did not sustain on her celeb comings and goings. However nonetheless, I am unhappy concerning the loss of life of a 54-year-old girl I by no means knew.

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


Elvis’ airplane was named Lisa Marie for his daughter.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/

Dads and daughters

Solidarity, sister — I additionally had a sideburned dad. It was the Nineteen 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 positively posed for awkward household photographs wanting uncomfortably sweaty and with big lapels on their jackets, similar to Elvis. 

Even her identify marked her as one among us. The yr I used to be born, “Lisa” was the most well-liked baby-girl identify in America, and “Marie” actually appeared like probably the most standard center names. I’ve near a dozen mates named “Lisa” to this present day. Gen X nursing houses can have a complete Lisa wing if they need sometime, catering solely to aged Lisas. Perhaps a couple of Kims and Amys.

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

Have you learnt the place your kids are? Nope!

Seventies youngsters weren’t catered to the best way they’re now. The memes are proper: Your dad and mom 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 perhaps taking part in 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 useless fish, or risking tetanus taking part in seize the flag in a junkyard. You is perhaps having a blast, you is perhaps being bullied, you is perhaps bored out of your cranium. Your dad and mom by no means knew, and so they weren’t going to ask.

There was no social media in fact, no “influencers.” Only a few youngsters my age had been well-known. Lisa Marie was one among them. 


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

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/

Dropping her dad

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

However one thing in me remembered that little lady within the photographs, 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 houses.   

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 unhealthy dad jokes and exhibiting up at my faculty capabilities. Clapping for me at performs, instructing me to drive, strolling me down the aisle, cooing at my child daughter. Lisa Marie did not get that. Lots of of tens of millions of {dollars} could not purchase that.

That Graceland swing set

Lisa Marie wove out and in of headlines after I acquired older. Her life appeared extra unreal and sophisticated than these easy dad-and-daughter photographs of the Nineteen Seventies. She grew to become a mother after I was nonetheless ending up faculty and attempting 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 in addition to our beginning years.

However after I visited Graceland in 2017, I felt a kinship with Lisa Marie once more. Graceland is an enormous home, but it surely’s not a Kardashian-style mansion. It felt immediately acquainted — a goofy, considerably awkwardly embellished home of the Nineteen 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 pink, white and blue Nineteen Seventies-style swing set out again appeared rather a lot like 1,000,000 swing units I might performed on. We lived by the bicentennial collectively, Lisa Marie and me, and every little thing was painted pink, white and blue.


Did this Graceland swing set belong to Lisa Marie? The type and bicentennial coloration scheme is well recognizable to any Nineteen Seventies child.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/

Lisa Marie led a sophisticated life. The luxuries she knew and the challenges she skilled, good and unhealthy, are ones I am going to by no means perceive. However her early, harmless fame burned so massive and so shiny that I by no means forgot her. Ultimately, 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 manner too quickly.

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