News, Culture & Society

Elvis’s grandson Benjamin Keough struggled with ‘Pressure’ of Presley family name prior to his death

Musician Brandon Howard and friend of the late Benjamin Keough has spoken out about the tragic death of Elvis Presley’s grandson.

Keough, the son of Lisa Marie Presley and grandson of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll died by suicide in Calabasas, California, on Sunday at the age of 27. 

In an interview with People.com, Howard said that his friend suffered from depression, which he feels was exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic causing people to stay at home.

He also said that Keough struggled with the pressure to live up to the Presley family name, saying that this pressure contributed to his friend’s struggles.

‘That kind of pressure is definitely a part of what happened,’ he told the website. ‘It’s a tough thing when you have a lot of pressure with your family and living up to a name and an image. 

Elvis Presley’s grandson and Lisa Marie Presley’s (left) son, Benjamin Keough (right) has died from a reported self-inflicted gunshot wound. He is pictured with his mom in 2012 

‘It’s a lot of pressure. It’s almost like you’re pressured into having to be a musician, having to be an actor. It was good for him to go around the world and discover himself and have his own friends. You never know what triggers it. You never know … It’s so random.’ 

Howard said that despite Keough’s own struggles, he was always the first one to be there when his friends needed help ‘in any kind of situation’, saying he would be the one to crash with a friend on their couch until they were feeling better.

The pair first met after Lisa Marie Presley, 52, married Michael Jackson in 1994. In the 1980s, Jackson’s father Joe managed ‘Baby, Be Mine’ singer Miki Howard – Brandon Howard’s mother.

Brandown Howard, picture above in 2018, has spoken about how his friend Benjamin Keough was 'very humble, very giving, very loving, especially to his friends'

Brandown Howard, picture above in 2018, has spoken about how his friend Benjamin Keough was ‘very humble, very giving, very loving, especially to his friends’

While Jackson and Presley divorced two years later in 1996, Keough and Howard remained close friends, and even named their friendship group with Corey Feldman ‘the lost boys.’

Howard said that despite their famous connections, he and Keough always wanted to remain true to themselves, developing a ‘brotherhood’ and ‘respect’ between each other. 

‘He would be the one I talked to when a lot of stuff was going around about me and questions about who I am and where I come from,’ he told People.com. 

‘He was like, “Who does that serve? Does that serve you or does that serve everyone else’s purpose? You are who you are, I am who I am. So it’s up to us. We don’t have anything to prove. We just live our lives. Those who know it, they know.”‘ 

Howard, picture above (second from right) said that Keough (pictured left) struggled with the pressure to live up to the Presley family name, saying that this pressure contributed to his friend's struggles

Howard, picture above (second from right) said that Keough (pictured left) struggled with the pressure to live up to the Presley family name, saying that this pressure contributed to his friend’s struggles

As well as being a talented musician, Howard said that Keough was also a great chef and a ‘wonderful’ human, saying ‘He was super inspiring.’ 

‘He was cool and very intelligent, intelligent beyond his years. He was multi-faceted. He could be anywhere from serious, giving advice, to like super crazy and wild and dancing and partying. He was a very loving person as a brother.’

Howard said the thing he would miss most about his friend was his ‘laugh and his eyes’ going on to say that ‘He wasn’t a spoiled kid. He was very humble, very giving, very loving, especially to his friends. It’s just wild. There’s nothing like this.’

Lisa Marie Presley with Benjamin's father, Danny Keough, at a California theater in 1991

The 27-year-old, pictured with his mom in 2010, was found Sunday in Calabasas, California, according to TMZ. Lisa Marie's manager, said: 'She is completely heartbroken, inconsolable and beyond devastated...She adored that boy. He was the love of her life'

Lisa Marie Presley with Benjamin’s father, Danny Keough, at a California theater in 1991 (left) and Benjamin pictured with his mother in 2010 (right)

The LA County Coroner’s office ruled Elvis Presley’s grandson’s death a suicide on Tuesday after Keough was found dead in the family’s upscale Calabasas, California, home on Sunday.   

DailyMail.com has learned exclusively that Benjamin had locked himself in a bathroom of the  five bed, three-bathroom luxury property in the early hours of Sunday. 

When the 27-year-old’s body was discovered by someone in the house, who then called 911, responding LA County Sheriff’s Department deputies found Benjamin’s lifeless body slumped on the toilet, in a chilling echo of the death of his famous grandfather, King of Rock and Roll Elvis Presley.

And in a shocking turn of events LA County Coroner’s office told DailyMail.com that an autopsy, which was completed on July 13, showed the cause of death as ‘Intraoral shotgun wound’ and not a gunshot wound to the chest as previously reported.

The location of his suicide is harrowingly similar to the famously indecorous death of Benjamin’s grandfather Elvis ‘The King’ Presley almost 43 years ago.

Lisa Marie Presley was left ‘inconsolable’ after her was found by police. Lisa Marie’s manager said: ‘She is completely heartbroken, inconsolable and beyond devastated but trying to stay strong for her 11-year-old twins and her oldest daughter Riley. She adored that boy. He was the love of her life.’    

Benjamin was the son of Lisa Marie – only child of superstar Elvis – and musician Danny Keough. Lisa Marie had previously spoken of Benjamin’s similarity to Elvis, calling their resemblance ‘uncanny’.  

A source close to the family has claimed that Benjamin had been ‘struggling’ for a long time and the death, though shocking, won’t have come as a ‘huge surprise.’ 

Police with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said they responded to a ‘rescue response’ call early Sunday.

Police responded to a 'rescue response' call at this home about 6:30am Sunday

Police responded to a ‘rescue response’ call at this home about 6:30am Sunday

A source told The Sun that Benjamin’s family was told about his death early on Sunday morning. 

‘It is shocking news but it also isn’t a huge surprise as he had been struggling. Everyone is heartbroken and devastated,’ they said. 

Nancy Sinatra tweeted: ‘I have known you since before your mama gave birth to you, never dreaming you would have pain like this in your life. I’m so very sorry.’ 

And another friend of Benjamin’s, musician DJ Ashba, wrote: ‘This cuts me to the bone. Literally in shock. I loved Ben like a brother and always will. Till we meet again my friend.’

Roy Orbison Jr, whose father performed with Benjamin’s grandfather, said: ‘Everybody please pray for Elvis Presley’s family. They have had another terrible tragedy today.’

Benjamin’s mother was born in 1968, the only child of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie lost her father just nine years later to heart failure. 

Indeed, it was Lisa Marie who discovered Elvis lying face down on the carpet next to the toilet in his bathroom. She called her father’s ex-girlfriend, Linda Thompson, yelling down the line: ‘My daddy’s dead! He’s smothered in the carpet!’

Lisa Marie has previously spoken of her son's, pictured, similarity to her dad Elvis, calling their resemblance 'uncanny'

Lisa Marie has previously spoken of her son's similarity to her dad Elvis, pictured, calling their resemblance 'uncanny'.

Lisa Marie has previously spoken of her son’s, left, similarity to her dad Elvis, right, calling their resemblance ‘uncanny’

Lisa Marie described her tight relationship with her own children in an interview with Healthy Living magazine in 2014.   

‘We all stay together. We are all very close. Wherever I am, they have their rooms and live with me,’ the mother said at the time. 

‘We all try to stay close as much as possible. Like, in the same room, preferably for me. I don’t like it when they are far away in any way.

‘I am very protective. I just smother them in love and I am also ferociously protective. They are my priority. That’s what I do. That’s what I care most about. I keep them close to me and make sure they are happy and healthy.’

Lisa Marie married Benjamin’s father, Danny Keough – her first of four husbands – in 1988.

The couple had two children together, Benjamin and his sister, the actress Riley Keough who is married to her Mad Max co-star Ben Smith-Petersen. 

Benjamin has two younger sisters, Finley and Harper, from his mother’s marriage to music producer Michael Lockwood.

Lisa Marie, second from left, is pictured with her four children; twins Finley and Harper, front left and right, and Benjamin, back right, and his sister Riley, center

Lisa Marie, second from left, is pictured with her four children; twins Finley and Harper, front left and right, and Benjamin, back right, and his sister Riley, center

He had largely kept himself out of the public spotlight, with private social media accounts, but in 2009 he was reported to have signed a $5million record deal with Universal. 

‘The music will be nothing like Elvis, nothing like him at all,’ he had said in an interview at the time. 

Aside from a few acting credits very little is known about Benjamin’s career. 

In 2015, he shared a picture of an Elvis outfit he had bought, writing on Instagram: ‘I purchased a piece of grandad today from a collector. He wore it in 1974. I feel a lot closer to him now.’ 

Lisa Marie and Benjamin were said to be so close that, in 2009, the mother and son got matching tattoos. In 2012 she wrote song Storm And Grace about her son.

She once said of Benjamin: ‘Ben does look so much like Elvis. He was at the Opry and was the quiet storm behind the stage.

‘Everybody turned around and looked when he was over there. Everybody was grabbing him for a photo because it is just uncanny.’  

  • If you or anyone you know needs to talk, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)  
  • For confidential support, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local branch. See www.samaritans.org for details.
  • LIFELINE: 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au . Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk