Elvis Presley‘s former wife, Priscilla Presley, got candid about her life with the music legend and his enduring legacy in a recent interview that coincided with the 40th anniversary of his death.
“[I lost] everything,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “You have to remember, he was such an impact in my life, in every way. He was my mentor, he was my confidant. I wrote this in my book. He was everything. In my book I wrote ‘my God,’ because I lived and breathed him.”
The actress – who still spends much of her time at Graceland, Elvis’ famous estate in Memphis, Tennessee – added that she is always reminded of the extent of his influence around the anniversaries of his death.
“I’m around so many fans coming in and doing some interviews, and it’s a definite reminder of his passing, and of course, thinking about him at this particular time,” she said. “A devastating time for myself and of course, the world, to hear the news, and it’s still unbelievable because he’s so much a part of our lives – my life and my daughter’s life and everyone around him. When we get together, we talk about it, and the impact it made … for myself, and for my cohorts, who of course knew Elvis so well, we never thought he’d pass. We just never, ever had that in our minds.”
On August 16, 1977, Elvis was found unresponsive in his bathroom at Graceland, and Priscilla, who amicably divorced the icon four years earlier, remembers getting a call from Elvis’ longtime road manager, Joe Esposito.
“The first thing I thought about was my daughter [Lisa Marie Presley], because my daughter was visiting and was supposed to come home that day because school started, so I was trying to rush home,” she said. “I think I ran every red light.”
Priscilla added that she vividly remembers from that day the sound of Elvis’ father, Vernon, “crying in such grief, howling.” As for Lisa Marie, who actually found out about Elvis’ death before she did, the nine-year-old girl didn’t quite understand the implications of her father’s death.
“It was funny, she had little playmates there and she’d gotten on the golf cart and was riding around the property on the golf cart,” Priscilla said. “I don’t think it resonated with her yet, the impact that had just happened because she was so young.”
Today, Priscilla said, she is still astonished by all the fans and artists who continue to be influenced by Elvis, mostly because he himself didn’t quite realize his impact back when he was at the peak of his career.
“When you come here [Graceland] and you see everything that he accomplished, I think even when he was able to afford so much, he never lost who he was,” she said. “He was still God-fearing, he still loved to entertain. He was very, very generous. He was very authentic. What you see is what you got with Elvis. He wasn’t trying to be anyone else. And he was a very, very special human being and we were all gifted to have him.”