April 3, 2003 -- She's the daughter of the King, the ex-wife of the King of Pop, and she has two other failed marriages behind her. But now, Lisa Marie Presley is finding her own voice.
Presley is about to release her long-awaited debut album, To Whom It May Concern. The lyrics she wrote are raw and bruising, and reflect her journey from Graceland to Neverland and back.
"I've been through a lot of stuff," Presley said, and her album reflects it.
Among those painful experiences — the death of her famous father and a string of heartbreaks. Her album is coming out just a few months after her marriage to Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage crashed and burned — after a mere 108 days.
But for many, the oddest thing about Presley's troubled marital track record is her 1994 union with Michael Jackson.
Presley told ABCNEWS' Diane Sawyer that she was in love with Jackson. She literally fell under his spell, she said.
"When he wants to lock into you, when he wants to intrigue you or capture you, or you know, whatever he wants to do with you, he can do it," Presley said in a Primetime interview. "I fell into this whole, 'You poor, sweet, misunderstood man, I'm going to save you.' … I fell in love with him."
Marriage to Michael
Presley recalls that her mother was shocked and upset by her marriage to Jackson. It was a typical mother-daughter thing, she said: "'Oh, you don't like him? Good. He's going to be my husband' … It was terrible."
Priscilla Presley suggested that the marriage might have been Jackson's way of deflecting attention from a sex-abuse scandal swirling around him.The singing superstar had been accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy. He was never charged, and a civil suit filed by the boy's family was settled out of court.
Presley defended Jackson fiercely at the time of the scandal, and she told Sawyer she never felt uncomfortable when he was around her two children from her first marriage. She said Jackson had a great connection with kids.
"He had something with children. Not a bad, perverted, weird thing. I didn't pick it up as that. They responded to him. He responded to them," she said.
And Presley says she found herself sexually attracted to Jackson. "I'm not attracted to mediocrity or normalcy or things like that," she said.
She says that for all Jackson's eccentricities, she found him surprisingly normal.
"He was very quick to, the first time I met him, sit me down and go, 'Listen, I'm not gay, and I know you think this, I know you think that,' and started cursing, started, you know, being a normal person, and I was like, 'Wow.' "
She told Sawyer, "I fell in love with him, I did."
But eventually, Presley said, she began to ask Jackson questions that he didn't like. She wouldn't reveal what those questions were, but said, "I started to just kind of wake up after a while. I was kind of sleeping, I guess."
Their relationship went really sour, Presley said. "And it got pretty ugly at the end. It wasn't pretty, but I don't want to get into it."
Presley filed for divorce in January 1996, barely 20 months into the marriage.
Shaking Things Up
Her marriage to Cage would be of even shorter duration. Presley told Sawyer that the two were truly in love, but were unable to maintain a stable emotional relationship.
They were together for two years, though their marriage lasted less than four months. "We honestly were joking, thinking we are like the new millennium version of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor at this point. I mean we are going to knock each other off," Presley said.
Presley said she's attracted to artists. "I like when someone's shaking it up, when they're different. I don't know why. I'll never know why. But it's just what I get attracted to."
This, she said, has probably led her to marry men with whom she has had particularly dramatic affairs. Presley and Cage married, hoping it would control their explosiveness. It didn't.
Presley said she and Cage are both emotionally dramatic people. Before they were married their notorious fight on a boat trip resulted in Presley's $65,000 engagement ring being flung into the ocean. Presley said she didn't throw the ring, but said Cage didn't throw it either. The couple called in divers to find the ring, but it was never recovered. Cage bought her another ring.
But their marriage proved no less volatile. After a fight, Cage threatened to file for divorce — and did.
"The most upsetting thing," Presley said, "was when he called to say he was sorry, wish he hadn't done it, things like that."
Presley added: "You can't have a temper tantrum and then call me four days later and expect, you know, everything to be fine again … so, it was like that … We were both like two 12-year-olds in a sandbox, basically."
She doesn't doesn't blame the failed marriage on Cage. She said they're both at fault and that they continue to talk with each other.
A Family Unit
Presley says that when it comes to picking men, she's "completely insane." Although, she said, there were "a few good ones" — particularly, Danny Keough, whom she married when she was 20. The marriage lasted 5 ½ years.
She and Keough are both Scientologists and have two children together. He's co-written some of her songs, and the two remain close, despite the divorce.
In a song on her new album, Presley sings, "I broke up my family, and the guilt is never gone."
She says Keough remains her best friend and that he stays with their children — 14-year-old Danielle Riley and 11-year-old Benjamin Storm — when Presley's out of town.
"We keep that unit very in order, no matter how crazy we are," she said.
Graceland and Fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches
Presley herself came from a broken home — her parents divorced before her 6th birthday, and her father died when she just 9.
After his death, Presley was raised by her mother, Priscilla. She says she's the polar opposite of her mom — a rebel, to her mom's demure and soft-spoken personality.
As a teen, she rebelled with drugs. But her mom put her into The Castle, a Scientology center in Hollywood, to get her off drugs. It worked, and Presley said she's been drug-free since she was 17.
Presley said she doesn't usually talk about her father, because she doesn't want to be seen as capitalizing on his image. She said Elvis' sprawling Memphis estate, Graceland, still feels like home when she visits, but that it's "like a time capsule."
"Nothing's been touched. It's kind of a sad thing. The life that existed there at one time, and the history, and there was so much life."
Much of that life involved her father's self-destruction before her eyes. She said she remembers her father as a loving and very exciting dad, but said she felt a need to take care of him.
No, she said, she never had Elvis' legendary fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches as a kid. She said she never saw her dad eat them either.
"I never saw him eat one of those, to be honest with you, and I finally just had one, like, I took a bite about a year ago."
One thing she did see was her father taking handfuls of pills. But, Presley who was only 9 when her father died in 1977, said she didn't know what they were. She remembers his erratic behavior and how he'd try to pull himself together when he saw her. "If I was watching TV in my room," she said Elvis would sort of "stumble to my doorway, and he'd start to fall and I had to go catch him."
She thinks her father was surrounded by people who were "taking him down basically, taking his dignity away." In her song, "Nobody Noticed It," she writes about it.
"He was obviously crying out for help. So, what is the point in, you know, trying to take away his dignity and cashing in on it, you know and getting attention for that. It's disgusting. I hope they rot in hell."
The Wild Child Grows Up
Now that she's embarked on a recording career, Presley expects there will be comparisons between her and her father — especially the way her upper lip moves into a defiant snarl, just Elvis' did.
"I've seen it," she said. "But it's not something that I've tried to do … But it's not like I'm trying to fight it either, but I can definitely see it."
Now 35, Presley said she's abandoned her tendency for impulsive marriages.
She's focusing on her music, and hopes that people will think that it's good, and find that she actually has a talent that's all her own.
As far as her happiness and imagining a perfect day for herself, Presley said, "It doesn't take much for me to be a perfect day. As long as there's not divorce involved in it. I'm fine."
For a sampling of Lisa Marie Presley's To Whom It May Concern, visit this Web address: http://capitolrecords.com/lisamariepresley/player/