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Married at 21, Priscilla Presley Recalls Her Time With Elvis

By: Good morning America
Source: ABC
August 17, 2007
Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis Interviews

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Thirty years after Elvis officially left the building, the world still can't get enough of him. Elvis shattered records by selling more than 1 billion of them. His sound, his swagger and his sheer sexuality sparked controversy. He riveted teenage fans around the world, including a Texan named Priscilla. 'When he moved and people were screaming he didn't know why they were screaming', said Elvis' ex-wife Priscilla Presley.

'There's an old saying that he said, 'What am I doing? What am I doing?' and they'd say, 'Go back and do it more. Whatever it is'. 'As a kid, you were drawn to him', Priscilla said. 'He was very sexual without trying to be'. She said people couldn't help but think something incredible was happening when they thought of Elvis.

Little did she know that, at the age of 14, while living with her family in Germany - her father was in the Air Force - she would be spotted by a friend of Elvis and invited to meet 'the king'. Elvis was stationed at a nearby Army base. She met the crooner with her parents' permission, wearing a sailor dress and patent leather shoes. 'I was so nervous', she said. 'I really didn't know what to say. I was quite shy'.

'People have said, 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe your parents let you go with this stranger'. But it was a very innocent time', Presley said. She described the late entertainer as very caring. 'I liked him very much. I certainly felt safe', she said. 'It was hard for me to say that I was only just going into the ninth grade'.

Elvis' first impression of Presley was justifiably focused on her youth. 'He went, 'Oh! A baby! You're just a kid',' she said. 'Elvis was 24 at the time, so I started feeling very, very young'.

Presley continued seeing Elvis in Germany and later in the United States, eventually moving into Graceland to live with him while she finished high school. As the couple's relationship blossomed, Presley said Elvis treated her with great care and respect. It wasn't the sexual relationship some assumed it to be.

'We cannot compare it to today. We still had morals, high standards', she said. 'There was a lot of care'.

When Presley was 21, she married Elvis in Las Vegas. Nine months later, their daughter, Lisa Marie, was born.

'He adored having a child. He adored Lisa. He just loved watching her grow up', Presley said. 'He was a very caring father'. But Elvis was a father who spent long weeks away on the road, and eventually the couple grew apart. After six years of marriage Presley asked for and got a divorce. 'The judge couldn't believe it', she said. He asked her whether she was sure about her decision. She said even after they split, however, they remained exceptionally close. 'But that was how our relationship was. We remained close', Presley said.

But if Presley was happy with the divorce, friends said Elvis was not. He was anxious about turning 40 and worried about his career. He had no hit singles and was embarrassed by his popular movie roles. His 33 movies grossed more than $150 million, but Elvis loathed the shallow plots.

'He thought people were making fun of him and he was becoming a joke', Presley said. As Elvis struggled with his worries, Elvis' abuse of prescription drugs deepened.

'It wasn't street drugs, mind you. This was prescribed medication from a doctor', Presley said. She said he never believed he had a problem because the medications were prescribed.

On Aug. 16, 1977 Elvis died at his longtime home, Graceland.

'That was way too soon', Presley said. 'One phone call changes your life forever. Never the same. You miss things that you never, ever appreciated. Little things. A laugh. A burst of laughter'.

She said the little things that never meant much became huge after his death.

'You go, 'My God, I'll never see that again. I'll never have the feeling that he was always there for me',' she said. 'It certainly changes your viewpoint on life and puts things in perspective'.

Even with all that has been written on the superstar, Presley said there are fans, past and present, who longed to know more about their idol, something others didn't know.

With many fans at that time they wanted it all, every little thing that he did. And that was hard', she said. 'People want to know things about him they can't. There is never enough'.

The man credited with bringing rock music to the forefront of American culture wanted to keep some things for himself. Elvis was a very proud man, and a very private man', she said. 'There was some things that he didn't feel that it was right that you needed to know'.

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The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.