MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Lisa Marie Presley, a singer, songwriter and the daughter of Elvis Presley, was remembered at a funeral service Sunday as a loving mother and an “old soul” who endured tragedy but persevered as a devoted protector of her father’s legacy as a rock ‘n roll pioneer and pop icon.
More than a thousand people gathered in the front yard of Graceland on a gray, chilly Memphis morning to mourn the death and memorialize the life of Lisa Marie Presley, who died Jan. 12 after being taken to a California hospital .
Some mourners held flowers as they waited for the service to begin under the tall trees on the lawn of Graceland, the Memphis home where Lisa Marie lived with her father as a child. The mansion, which was owned by Lisa Marie Presley, has been turned into a museum and tourist attraction that hundreds of thousands of fans visit each year to celebrate the life and music of Elvis, who died in 1977 at the age of 42.
The south Memphis property was a place of sadness and gloomy memories on Sunday. The service began with the singing of “Amazing Grace” by Jason Clark & The Tennessee Mass Choir.
“We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the love, compassion and support you have shown our family during this difficult time,” said a message from the Presley family on the program for the service. “We will always be grateful.”
Among those speaking at the service were Lisa Marie’s mother, actor Priscilla Presley; Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York; Jerry Schilling, a close friend of Elvis and Lisa Presley’s former manager; and former Memphis mayor A.C. Wharton, who called Lisa Marie’s parents the royal couple of Memphis and a “conduit to the throne, the keeper of the flame.”
In a low voice, Priscilla Presley read a poem by one of Lisa Marie’s three daughters, Harper Vivienne Ann Lockwood, titled “The Old Soul,” in which she calls her mother “an icon, a role model, a superhero to many people.” all over the world.”
“She entered our world in 1968, tired, fragile, yet born strong. She was delicate, but full of life,” Priscilla Presley read. “She always knew she wouldn’t be here too long. Childhood passes, with a glimpse of her green eye. She then started her own family.”
After reading the poem, Priscilla Presley said, “Our hearts are broken. Lisa, we all love you.
Music punctuated the service. Billy Corgan, lead singer of The Smashing Pumpkins, played acoustic guitar and sang “To Sheila”; Alanis Morissette sang “Rest”; Axl Rose, from Guns N’ Roses, played piano and sang “November Rain”; and The Blackwood Brothers Quartet, one of the pioneering groups in gospel music, performed two songs.
After the service, mourners walked through Graceland’s Meditation Garden, where Presley was buried in an above-ground grave next to her son Benjamin Keough, who died in 2020, and next to her grandparents and great-grandmother.
Wreaths and bouquets of red, white, yellow and pink flowers lined the road to the tomb and the tomb itself. Fans, some with tears in their eyes, walked slowly past the grave and stopped to pay their respects.
Jordan Clark, 25, traveled from Mobile, Alabama, to attend the service. She called the ceremony special and heartwarming. Clark said that Lisa Marie “went through a lot” in her life and compared the service to the time Elvis died, when “people came from all over.”
“She was born into the public, born into fame. That’s hard for some people,” Clark said. “She handled it like a champ. I think.”
Lisa Marie was 9 when her father died. She was staying at Graceland at the time and would remember him kissing her goodnight for the last time.
After her father died, she became the sole heir to the Elvis Presley Trust, which — along with Elvis Presley Enterprises — managed Graceland and other assets until she sold her controlling interest in 2005. She retained ownership of the mansion itself, the 13 acres around it, and items in the home.
A representative for Elvis Presley Enterprises has told The Associated Press that the mansion is in a trust that will benefit her children. She and Harper are survived by two other daughters: Riley Keough and Finley Aaron Love Lockwood.
Riley Keough, an actor, did not speak during the service. Her husband, Ben Smith-Petersen, read a statement in which Keough recalls her mother taking her for ice cream, bringing her Cracker Barrel tea sets, and leaving notes in her lunch box.
“Thank you for giving me strength, my heart, my empathy, my courage, my sense of humor, my manners, my temper, my wildness, my tenacity,” Riley Keough said in the statement. “I am a product of your heart.”