The late Lisa Marie Presley was honored Thursday night in the town once ruled by her daddy. Following news of the singer-songwriter’s death from a heart attack at age 54, fans left flowers and candles outside the Graceland Wedding Chapel, along with a sweet photo of Elvis Presley doting on his young daughter in the early ’70s.
Graceland Wedding Chapel is one of only a handful of chapels sanctioned by the Presley estate to use Elvis impersonators. Brendan Paul, its owner and himself an impersonator, told FOX5/Las Vegas: “It was a constant reminder of the King when you looked at her. People had a soft spot for Lisa Marie.”
Ground zero for Elvis history in Las Vegas is, of course, the Westgate Las Vegas Resort. On July 31, 1969, Elvis began what would become a seven-year residency in the showroom of what was then known as the International Hotel. Only Wednesday morning, the Westgate unveiled a fun display celebrating Austin Butler’s Golden Globes win for last year’s Elvis movie.
”All of us at Westgate are deeply saddened by the news of Lisa Marie Presley’s tragic passing,” read a statement released Thursday by Westgate founder and president David Siegel. “Our thoughts and prayers go to our dear friend Pricilla and the entire Presley family.”
Lisa Marie spent many weekends at the International – and the Las Vegas Hilton, as it became known in 1971 – in the company of Elvis, who resided in the 30th floor Impersonal Suite. During one of those weekends, either in late August or early September 1974, Lisa Marie asked her father to take her to see and meet the Jackson 5. They were in town performing at the MGM Grand, the hotel that would later be known as Bally’s, and today, the Horseshoe.
The meeting that transpired backstage after the Jackson 5 show was wildly historic for two reasons, neither of which its participants realized at the time. Not only was it the only time the man dubbed “the king of rock n’ roll” by the press would meet the boy who would grow up to call himself “the king of pop,” it was also the first time Lisa Marie would meet her future second husband. She was six at the time, he 16. They were married from 1994 to 1996.
Unfortunately, no photos are known to exist of that meeting.
Lisa Marie returned to the Westgate on April 23, 2015, along with her mother, Priscilla Presley. They cut the ribbon opening “Graceland Presents: The Elvis Presley Experience.” That exhibit included a 30,000 square-foot museum with hundreds of Elvis artifacts, its own wedding chapel, and an Elvis tribute show in the original Elvis showroom. Tours were also given of the former site of the Imperial Suite, which was demolished in 1995 and replaced by three VIP “sky villas.”
“This is an important building to my family,” Lisa Marie said at the time. “It’s powerful to be back in Las Vegas.”
Unfortunately, the exhibit was shuttered within a year because of underwhelming attendance. This resulted in a leasing dispute between Elvis Presley Enterprises and a third-party operator that briefly held the artifacts for ransom.
Her Other Vegas Connections
On Sept. 13, 2003, Lisa Marie chose Las Vegas to kick off her first headlining solo tour. It was at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay. During the playful show, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, she curled her lip and shook her hips and introduced herself as “Macy Gray.”
Lisa Marie returned to the House of Blues two years later, and also performed in 2006 at the now-defunct Empire Ballroom.
More often, though, Lisa Marie visited Vegas in the company of her mother. In December 2009, the duo attended the grand opening of the Cirque show, “Viva Elvis,” at Aria. (That was also canceled due to poor attendance, after a two-year run.)
The Presley women returned to Aria in January 2011, when Priscilla was honored as Nevada Ballet Theatre’s Woman of the Year at the 27th annual Black and White Ball.
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