Fans who visited Graceland after the death of Lisa Marie Presley were distraught at the loss of Elvis Presley's only child, one of the last remaining living touchstones to the icon whose influence and significance still resonates more than 45 years after he himself suddenly passed away.
Lisa Marie Presley, 54, died Thursday, hours after being hospitalized for a medical emergency.
A singer-songwriter herself, Lisa Marie did not live in Memphis, where she was born. But she made trips to the city for celebrations of her father's birth anniversary and commemorations of his death, which stunned the world when he was found dead in his Graceland home at age 42 on Aug. 16, 1977. She was in Memphis just this past Sunday, on what would have been her father's 88th birthday.
Angela Ferraro was among those on Thursday night who stopped by Graceland, where the trees in the front lawn were adorned by green and red lights. Fans took photos and left flowers at the front gate on the chilly and windy evening.
Ferraro and her fiance drove 25 minutes from Olive Branch, Mississippi, to pay their respects. Ferraro said she was a fan of Elvis’ music and of Lisa Marie’s — the couple listened to Lisa Marie’s song “Lights Out” on the drive north to Graceland.
“Elvis died young, and so did she. And her son, his passing was very tragic as well,” said Ferraro, 32. “It’s hard and it’s devastating.”
Lisa Marie became the sole heir of the Elvis Presley Trust, which — along with Elvis Presley Enterprises — managed Graceland and other assets until she sold her majority interest in 2005. She retained ownership of the mansion itself, the 13 acres around it and items inside the home. Her son is buried there, along with her father and other members of the Presley family.
A representative from Elvis Presley Enterprises told The Associated Press that the mansion is in a trust that will go to the benefit of her children — she's survived by three daughters, including actor Riley Keough. The representative did not have details on a funeral or burial.
Lisa Marie was 9 when her father died. She was staying at Graceland at the time and would recall him kissing her goodnight hours before he died. When she next saw him, the following day, he was lying face down in the bathroom.
“I just had a feeling,” she told Rolling Stone in 2003. “He wasn’t doing well. All I know is I had it (a feeling), and it happened. I was obsessed with death at a very early age.”
Lisa Marie visited Graceland in 2012 to attend the opening of a new exhibit, “Elvis Through His Daughter’s Eyes," a personal look that included her baby shoes — her birth, nine months exactly after Elvis and Priscilla Presley's wedding, was international news — as well as her first record player and a small white fur coat.
During an interview with the AP during that stop, she smiled when recalling the time spent with her dad. She said one of her favorite items was the key used to operate a golf cart because it helped her recall when she was alone with her father, riding around the neighborhood.
“That was my life,” she said. “I carried it everywhere. It was never far from me or not on my person when I was a child. I hadn’t seen it in 35 years.”
Kristen Sainato and her husband were visiting Memphis from Cleveland when she heard the news of Lisa Marie's death on Thursday. She wore a black jacket with the well-known TCB lightning bolt (shorthand for taking care of business in a flash, a motto Elvis lived by) on the back as she described meeting Lisa Marie at a celebration of her father’s birthday. Sainato set down a bouquet of flowers at the front gate of Graceland, where one of two planes is named for Lisa Marie.
“Those are for Lisa,” she said.
She said Lisa Marie Presley was one of the last connections to her famous father.
“Everyone is shocked over this. Why? Why did this have to happen?” Sainato said, wiping tears from her eyes as she stood in front of the stone wall that borders the home-turned museum. “She deserved a long, happy life.”