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Elvis Presley’s Grandson Lived a Tragically Short Life

(Photo Credit: Getty Images and  Dave M. Benett/ Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Getty Images and Dave M. Benett/ Getty Images)

People who saw Benjamin Keough on the street might have thought they saw a ghost. Elvis Presley’s grandson shared an uncanny resemblance with his grandfather. Sadly, that is not the only thing the pair shared. Both Elvis Presley and his grandson Benjamin Keough passed away far too early.

Benjamin Keough was Elvis Presley’s only grandson

Micheal Lockwood, Ben Keough and Lisa Marie Presley at the World Premiere of Harry Potter
From left to right- Unidentified guest, Michael Lockwood, Ben Keough and Lisa Marie Presley attend the World Premiere of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 at Odeon Leicester Square on November 11, 2010 in London, England. (Photo Credit: Dave M. Benett/ Getty Images)

Benjamin Storm Presley Keough was born on October 21, 1992, in Tampa, Florida. He was the second child born to Lisa Marie Presley and musician Danny Keough. Benjamin’s older sister, Danielle Riley Keough (known professionally as Riley Keough), was born on May 29, 1989.

Unlike his grandfather, who was born in the middle of the Great Depression, Benjamin was born into money. When his mother, Lisa Marie Presley, turned 25, she was eligible to inherit Elvis Presley’s $100 million estate. Danny Keough was also a successful musician and toured with jazz legend Chick Corea. The pair first met in 1984 at the Church of Scientology and were married in October 1988.

In 1994, Lisa Marie left Danny for Michael Jackson. This marriage was short-lived, as Lisa Marie filed for divorce in January 1996, citing “irreconcilable differences.” She married actor Nicolas Cage in 2002, but that marriage lasted only about one hundred days.

Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson in Versailles, France
Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson in Versailles, France in 1994. (Photo Credit: Pool ARNAL/ PAT/ Getty Images)

Lisa Marie Presley’s children were moved around a lot while they were young. Riley Keough was raised primarily by her father in Hawaii and Los Angeles, while Benjamin stayed closer to his mother.

Lisa Marie married guitarist Michael Lockwood in 2006. Finally, it seemed like Benjamin and Riley had some stability in their life. Lisa Marie and Michael had twin girls in 2008. The couple remained together until 2016.

It was a struggle to live in his grandfather’s shadow

Rock & Roll legend Elvis Presley
American rock ‘n’ roll legend Elvis Presley, circa 1960s. (Photo Credit: Bettmann/ Getty Images)

By the time he was 17 years old, Benjamin Keough had decided he wanted to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and start creating his own music. In 2009, Universal offered Benjamin a $5 million record deal with the potential of making up to five albums.

Benjamin never ended up releasing any music. His mother once revealed that her son “loves to be part of the music industry.” However, when it came to releasing music, Lisa Marie Presley said that “it’s on his time frame. Always. Then when he’s ready to see me, he’ll come.” She added, “I’m trying to let him do his own thing without pushing that on him so much because I want him to feel I know it’s going to be hard.”

Although Benjamin Keough remained relatively private, he was instantly recognized for looking like his grandfather whenever he went out in public. Elvis Presley’s grandson had the same sharp jawline and striking blue eyes that helped make Elvis famous. Lisa Marie Presley once revealed that all of her children had a little bit of her father in them, but Benjamin by far looked most like the King of Rock & Roll.

Lisa Marie Presley with Riley and Benjamin Keough at the premiere of Lilo and Stich
Lisa Marie Presley and her children Benjamin Keough (R), Riley Keough (L), and her half-brother Navarone Garibaldi (back) attend the premiere of “Lilo and Stitch” at the El Capitan theatre in Hollywood on June 16, 2002. (Photo Credit: Chris DELMAS / Getty Images)

In 2012, Lisa Marie shared a story about Benjamin’s resemblance to his grandfather: “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 was just uncanny. Sometimes I am overwhelmed when I look at him.”

Despite this physical resemblance, Elvis Presley’s grandson was determined to make his own way in life. When he first signed his record deal, he made sure that people understood that his music would be nothing like Elvis’s. Although he to forge his own path, a family insider revealed to The Sun that Benjamin “didn’t really have an education, a job or a passion. He was lost in life, and he has always been in his grandfather’s shadow.”

A tragic end to a promising life

Lisa Marie Presley, Benjamin Keough, Riley Keough, and John Oszajca
Lisa Marie Presley spends an afternoon with musician John Oszajca and her children Danielle and Benjamin at a carnival October 2000 in Malibu, CA. (Photo Credit: Peter Brandt/Getty Images)

In the last few years of his life, Benjamin Keough struggled with drugs and alcohol. Before his death, he had recently gone to a rehabilitation facility to help get clean.

People close to Benjamin also mentioned that he struggled with Scientology. Lisa Marie Presley brought her family up in Scientology before leaving the church in 2014. An inside source mentioned that Benjamin used to talk about how messed up children tended to get when involved with Scientology.

In the last years of his life, Benjamin Keough also saw his mother struggle financially. In 2018 Lisa Marie Presley sued her financial manager, Barry Siegel, and his financial company because her multi-million dollar Elvis Presley trust was whittled down to only $14,000. Lisa Marie was left with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, forcing Benjamin’s grandmother, Priscilla Presley, to sell her Beverly Hills estate to help her daughter.

On July 12, 2020, Benjamin Keough shot himself at the family home in Calabasas, California. Keough was found by his girlfriend, who immediately called the police. Sadly, he was pronounced dead at the scene. He was only 27 years old.

Benjamin Keough’s death was ruled a suicide, although no note was left. An autopsy found both cocaine and alcohol in Benjamin’s system. Although he was dealing with mental illness, he did not reach out for help in the weeks and months leading up to his death.

Interred beside his grandfather

Benjamin Keough’s death had a major impact on his family. Riley Keough opened up about her brother’s death one year after he died, saying: “And our scenario… I never would have imagined. It wasn’t something that I saw coming… I think people have these ways they imagined mental health looking, and I think that really for me is what I had always wanted to communicate by him. Everyone that knew him knew that, but he was just a magical person.”

Lisa Marie Presley also opened up about her grief in an Instagram post on what would have been Benjamin’s 28th birthday. In this post, Presley wrote: “I worshipped the ground you walked on, on this earth and now in Heaven. My heart and soul went with you.” She also said, “hold my hand while I stay to continue to protect and raise your little sisters and to be here for Riley.”

Riley Keough and Lisa Marie Presley at ELLE's 24th Annual Women in Hollywood Celebration
Riley Keough and Lisa Marie Presley arrive at ELLE’s 24th Annual Women in Hollywood Celebration at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on October 16, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo Credit: Jon Kopaloff/ Getty Images)

Elvis Presley’s grandson was buried beside his grandfather in the Meditation Garden at Graceland. Elvis’s mother, Gladys Presley, his father Vernon Presley, and his grandmother Minnie Mae Presley are buried alongside Elvis and Benjamin in the Meditation Garden.

If you are struggling with mental illness or suicidal thoughts don’t be afraid to reach out. Resources can be accessed through the National Institute of Mental Health.

Madeline Hiltz

Maddy Hiltz is someone who loves all things history. She received her Bachelors of Arts in history and her Master’s of Arts degree in history both from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. Her thesis examined menstrual education in Victorian England. She is passionate about Princess Diana, the Titanic, the Romanovs, and Egypt amongst other things.

In her spare time, Maddy loves playing volleyball, running, walking, and biking, although when she wants to be lazy she loves to read a good thriller. She loves spending quality time with her friends, family, and puppy Luna!