In 1994 the King of Pop wed the heir to the kingdom of rock and roll, and the two great houses of modern music were united – if only for a brief, bizarre stint.
The relationship between Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley – the only child of The King himself, Elvis Presley – traversed Jackson’s child molestation charges and a shotgun wedding in the Dominican Republic, included one of television’s most awkward kisses and MTV’s strangest music videos, and was dogged by skeptics until it dissolved in divorce in 1996.
The couple met when Presley was just a child and a lover of Jackson’s music, but she wouldn’t become his lover until they reconnected nearly two decades later.
Many accused the couple of marrying to distract the world form the damning accusations against Jackson, but the couple always maintained its authenticity, with Presley insisting Jackson was haunted by its dissolution until the day he died.
Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson visit Versailles in France in 1994
Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson kiss on stage the the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards
Presley was a Jackson 5 fanatic when she was a kid, and at seven-years-old her father brought her back stage at one of Jackson’s concerts to meet the singer himself.
An employee of Jackson’s told People magazine in 1994 that Presley ‘has known Michael almost all of her life,’ and that the two ‘stayed in touch,’ after their first meeting.
Their friendship was rekindled in 1992 after the met again in Los Angeles. Presley was married at the time to the musician Danny Keough, who she had two children with.
In 1993 when Jackson was accused of molesting 13-year-old Jordan Chandler, he and Presley talked regularly on the phone and she became his support system throughout the investigation and its publicity.
Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson at the Budapest airport in August, 1994
Michael Jackson welcomes guests to the MTV Video Music awards with Lisa Presley
Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson lock lips at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards
During one of those phone calls, oh a whim Jackson reportedly asked Presley if she would marry him if he asked her to.
‘Michael valued Lisa’s settling effect on him, so much so that during his phone conversation, he posed a question that surprised both of them,’ wrote biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli. ”If I asked you to marry me, would you do it?’ … Without missing a beat, she replied, ‘I would do it,’ he wrote.
Presley’s six-year marriage to Keough was falling apart at the time, and months later in May of 1994 she and Jackson jetted off to the Dominican Republic to escape the press and elope.
There Presley filed for a quickie divorce from Keough, and she and Jackson were married in a fifteen minute ceremony. They both wore black, and Jackson donned a cowboy hat and bolo tie.
ichael Jackson and his wife Lisa Marie Presley with children in Budapest in August, 1994
Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley at Neverland Ranch before the Children’s World Summit in 1995
Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson at Versailles in September 1994
The pair kept their marriage secret throughout the summer as rumors swirled, until Presley finally confirmed it in a statement that August.
‘My married name is Mrs. Lisa Marie Presley-Jackson. My marriage to Michael Jackson took place in a private ceremony outside the United States weeks ago,’ she said.
‘I am very much in love with Michael. I dedicate my life to being his wife. I understand and support him. We both look forward to raising a family.’
A month later she and Jackson opened the MTV Video Music Awards together. Walking out on the stage hand-in-hand, Jackson paused to let the crowd’s cheers die down.
‘Welcome to the MTV Video Music Awards,’ he said. Then, waiting another moment for the applause to die down again, he said with a not to Presley, ‘I’m very happy to be here. Just think, nobody thought this would last.’
He then planted a bit lip-locking kiss on his wife and pulled her in close as the crowd went wild. They then walked off stage.
Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson walk the streets of Budapest together during a trip
Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson hold a baby during a 1994 trip to Budapest
As the couple continued to make public appearances together across 1994 and into 1995, rumors began to swirl that they did not have sex with each other.
They addressed the whispers in June of 1995 during an interviewed with Diane Sawyer.
‘Do we have sex?’ Presley said, and together she and Jackson exclaimed ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ They added that they indented to have kids together.
As if to accentuate their sexual stance, a month later Jackson released the music video for You Are Not Alone, which prominently featured him and Presley canoodling, dripping wet and in the nude, throughout some sort of desert temple.
Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson on the cover of the National Inquirer in 1994
Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson at the MTV Music Video Awards in 1995
Rumors about the state of their marriage continued to dog the couple throughout 1995, and finally came to fruition when they separated in December of that year.
A month later Presley filed for divorce, citing ‘irreconcilable differences.’
Nevertheless, the two tried to reconcile throughout the late 90s, with Presley traveling the world to be with Jackson at times, and the pair occasionally being spotting together during Jackson’s world tours.
Jackson ultimately married nurse Debbie Rowe in 1996 – who he would have two children with before divorcing in 2000 – and Presley married actor Nicholas Cage in 2002.
Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson give Mickey and Minnie Mouse hugs in 1994
Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson divorced in January 1996
In 2003, Presley told Rolling Stone she was pulled into the relationship with Jackson out of a desire to save him during his first child molestation charges.
‘You get sucked into the, ‘You poor, misunderstood person, you…’ I’m a sucker for that,’ she said. ‘I got into this whole, ‘I’m going to save you’ thing.’
Speaking with Oprah after Jackson’s death, she said caring for Jackson was one of the ‘highest points’ of her life.
‘I loved taking care of him,’ she said. ‘It was one of the highest points in my life when things were going really well, and he and I were united. It was a very profound time of my life.’