July 12 marks the anniversary of Benjamin Keough’s tragic death in 2020. The 27-year-old son of Lisa Marie Presley committed suicide at Lisa Marie’s home in Calabasas, CA. He died of a self-inflicted intraoral gunshot wound.
Not many are aware that the grandson of Elvis Presley had plans to have a career in the music business. When he was only 17 years old, he was offered a $5 million record deal for up to 5 albums with Universal Music. Ben’s first album was scheduled to be released in 2010, but for unknown reasons, was never released.
Keough was a musician who played the guitar and bass. His best friend was Trev Lukather, a guitarist and songwriter who also came from a rock and roll family. Trev is the son of Steve Lukather, the founding member of the band, Toto. Both Ben and Trev grew up amid the music scene in Los Angeles, but played separately with their own bands.
In 2011, Ben performed onstage at a music festival called Recapalooza. He played the bass in the band. Meanwhile, Keough accompanied his mother, Lisa Marie, to many musical events including the promotion of her 2012 album, Storm & Grace, at Sun Studios in Memphis and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
Lisa talked about Ben’s musical ambitions, possibly revealing why his first album never came to fruition:
“He loves music, but that’s a lot to put on him,” she told the ladies of The Talk in 2012. “I’m trying to let him do his thing without pushing that on him… He needs to come to something on his own. He’s very proud so when he does something, he wants it to be really good.”
An added factor to the pressure Ben must have felt was the fact that he looked so much like his famous grandfather. In 2012 , Lisa remarked about how much attention Ben gets for his resemblance to Elvis: “He was at the Opry and was the quiet storm behind the stage! (laughs) Everybody turned around and looked when he was over there. Everybody was grabbing him for a photo because it is just uncanny. Sometimes I am overwhelmed when I look at him.”
After Ben died, news came out that he had reportedly struggled with drugs and alcohol and had been to rehab. His mother has had her own struggles with drug addiction in recent years as well.
Musician Brandon Howard told People Magazine that the pressure his friend experienced to live up to the Presley family name “absolutely” contributed to Keough’s struggles.
“That kind of pressure is definitely a part of what happened,” Howard said. “It’s a tough thing when you have a lot of pressure with your family and living up to a name and an image. It’s a lot of pressure.”
Howard wanted people to know that his friend “was super inspiring,” he continued. “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.”
“I want people to know about his humility. He wasn’t a spoiled kid. He was very humble, very giving, very loving, especially to his friends.”
Ben had a tattoo on the side of his neck that read: “We are all beautiful.”
Needless to say, Lisa Marie was devastated by his death. His tragic suicide leaves a huge hole in the hearts of his family, including sisters Riley, Finley and Harper.
His older sister, Riley Keough, called him the love of her life and wrote this on Instagram: “I can’t believe you’ve left me. Not you sweet Ben Ben. Anyone but you. I guess this is true heartbreak. I hope we meet again.”
A representative for Lisa Marie said she was “entirely 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.”
Priscilla Presley released a statement after Ben’s death:
In March 2021, Lisa Marie quietly sold the house where Ben died. Fans were encouraged to see Lisa in June 2021 pose with artist John Jansky and his unique painting of Ben. Lisa saw it on the internet and requested to have one.
Ben was buried at Graceland in an above-ground grave that sits on the opposite side of the burial plots of Elvis and other family members. The internment was the first at Graceland in 40 years since Minnie Mae Presley died in 1980.
Lisa Marie and Ben were very close. They even had matching foot tattoos in the shape of an eternal knot.
Lisa Marie wrote the title song for her 2012 album, Storm & Grace, about Ben.
It includes the lyrics:
“You are the most beautiful man
That I’ve ever known
Too much to offer
And too much held close to the bone”
Below is a fan-made video in tribute to Ben – RIP.
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