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The Wright Opinion - Goodbye, Lisa Marie
Seth Wright.jpg

In a country obsessed with celebrity and with our childhood heroes getting older every day, it seems like at least once a week social media is all abuzz about the latest celebrity death. I've seen many friends be deeply affected by news of the passing of their favorite celebrities. I understand their feelings but I've not really had that reaction myself.

Last week's news of the passing of Lisa Marie Presley, however, left me (at the risk of sounding indelicate but said with the utmost respect) all shook up.

My love of Lisa Marie's father, Elvis, goes back literally as far as I can remember. Like many things I have loved all my life, my Elvis fandom was greatly influenced by my father. He shared a birthday with Elvis (Jan. 8) and was a big Elvis fan, so I was too. I used to get into his stack of vinyl and listen to "Elvis As Recorded at Madison Square Garden" over and over again. When the kids at school were listening to the Beastie Boys or Bon Jovi, I was listening to "Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii" on cassette tape. 

While I only shared the planet with Elvis for about three and a half years before his passing on Aug. 16, 1977, I have a couple of Elvis-adjacent moments during that small window of time. For starters, I was born in Murfreesboro in 1974 and was still in the hospital there the day Elvis performed at Murphy Center on MTSU’s campus. So, from quite literally my earliest days, I was in the same town as Elvis.

Then, in early August, 1977, my family took vacation to Memphis to visit my uncle Mark (dad’s brother), aunt Hilda and cousin Courtney at their home in Memphis. Uncle Mark pointed out that Elvis’ plane, the Lisa Marie, was at the airport so that meant Elvis was home. He drove us by the gates of Graceland and three-and-a-half-year-old me asked if we could go in and have dinner with Elvis. I don’t guess my request was granted, but that experience is one of my earliest memories. Less than two weeks later, Elvis passed away in that very house.

My Elvis appreciation led me to devour everything I could find about him. In the days before the internet, that meant reading a lot of magazines. In those magazines, I learned a lot about Elvis' little girl, Lisa Marie. I always paid attention to her career, bought her albums, and was a little perplexed by a couple of her odd marriages to Michael Jackson and Nicholas Cage. 

More recently I was pleased to see Lisa Marie's spot in the public eye get a bit of a resurgence as she had been making the rounds promoting the excellent movie starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks, "Elvis." Lisa Marie said it was the first movie to portray her father correctly, a pretty big blessing. 

Only days before her passing, I watched her appear at Graceland for the Elvis birthday celebration and then again at the Golden Globes as Butler won best actor for his portrayal of Elvis. 

Seeing her so recently made news of her death all the more shocking. Like her father, her life was all-too short. Rest in peace, Lisa Marie.

Standard managing editor Seth Wright can be reached at (931) 473-2191