‘Idol’ Mentor Recalls ‘Burden’ Lisa Marie Presley Faced as 911 Call Is Released

Lisa Marie Presley performing

Getty Lisa Marie Presley performs at The GRAMMY Museum in 2012

As the music world comes to grips with the untimely death of Lisa Marie Presley, whose medical emergency on January 13, 2023, is now documented in newly-released audio of the frantic 911 phone call from her home, superstar music producer and former “American Idol” mentor David Foster has revealed little-known stories about the time he spent with the only daughter of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, stating that the singer carried a “hell of a burden” throughout her life.

Foster, who met his wife — “Idol” alum Katherine McPhee Foster — while serving as a celebrity mentor on the talent competition, also offered guidance to Lisa Marie as he worked with her to create duets of her singing with her dad’s old recordings as a gift to his fans. In new interviews, Foster spoke glowingly of Lisa Marie, while also alluding to her well-documented “struggles.”

David Foster Says Her Dad’s Legacy Was ‘Hell of a Burden’ For Lisa Marie Presley

David Foster

GettyDavid Foster onstage during Live at The Music Center: Concert Celebrating Jerry Moss in January 2023

As a Grammy-winning songwriter and record producer, Foster, 73, has worked with some of music’s biggest artists, but he didn’t get to record with Elvis before his 1977 death. So it was an honor, he said, to be asked to produce multiple posthumous duets between Elvis and his daughter, just as he did for Natalie Cole with her legendary father Nat King Cole after his death.

Foster worked with Lisa Marie on new versions of “Don’t Cry Daddy” and “In The Ghetto,” adding her vocals to her dad’s recordings. She didn’t officially release the tracks on her own albums, but shared them with thrilled fans on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and at fan events commemorating the anniversary of her dad’s death. In 2013, Lisa Marie told the Huffington Post how the idea came about for the duets.

“It was a last-minute idea that I had one year,” she said. “I called David Foster who did the Natalie/Nat King Cole duet. And then I just started this little tradition where I did ‘In the Ghetto’ and five years later I did ‘I Love You Because.’ It was a tradition for the fans. It’s all for the fans. I haven’t released anything to the public. We always gather in Memphis every five years. I’m always there so I try to do something for them.”

On January 15, 2023, Foster told People magazine what it was like recording with Lisa Marie.

“I clearly remember the day we were in the studio together doing a duet with her father, ‘Don’t Cry Daddy,’ which was kind of profound in its own way, that she would be singing a duet with her father,” Foster said.

“She just was a hard worker and infectious and fun and irreverent,” he continued, but added that he also knew she had a heavy weight on her shoulders, trying to make music while living in the shadow of her dad.

He said, “It’s a hell of a burden to carry around, to be Elvis’ daughter, and I think she wore it really well. I mean, obviously, the struggles that she had are well documented, but who knows what it was like to walk in her shoes? She was iconic in her own right.”

Foster also spoke to E! News about Lisa Marie, about her personality.

“I read someone said, ‘We loved her laugh’ and it reminded me that, yes, her laugh was so infectious. It’s incredible,” Foster said. “You know, she was an amazing person and I loved being around her. She was very charismatic, and she had a lot to say and a lot to tell and she lived a big life.”

That life was cut short on January 13, two days after she appeared at the Golden Globes to celebrate the 2022 movie “Elvis,” which she told “Entertainment Tonight” she found “mindblowing” when she first watched it. Less than 48 hours later, she suffered what many outlets have reported as “full cardiac arrest” — though her cause of death hasn’t been officially released — and she died at a Los Angeles hospital later that day. The New York Post has obtained audio of the chaotic 911 call that morning, where her housekeeper and ex-husband Danny Keough tried to provide directions to her house.

David Foster Recalls Hanging Out With Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson

Lisa Marie Presley, Michael Jackson

GettyLisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson in Budapest in August 1994

In Foster’s 2009 book, Hitman, he detailed another fascinating experience with Lisa Marie Presley when she was married to pop icon Michael Jackson. From 1991 to 2005, Foster was married to Linda Thompson, who famously dated Elvis after his divorce from Priscilla. Thompson became close with Lisa Marie when she was a child and is “devastated” by her death, according to People. 

In his book, Foster recalled a time when his three daughters and Thompson’s two sons were visiting them at the Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, where Jackson had rented a “magnificent suite” for Foster and his family. At the time, Jackson was married to Lisa Marie in a brief and highly-scrutinized union that lasted from early 1994 to December 1995.

When the Foster and Thompson’s kids wanted to go to a movie, Jackson said he couldn’t go out in public without attracting the paparazzi — so they decided to try disguising him, dressing him in scarves, jeans and a hat to cover his hair.

“We had the valet bring the van around, and we piled in without incident,” Foster recalled in the book. “There were some paparazzi out front, but they must have looked at us and figured we were nobodies. And it was very interesting, because Michael and Lisa got separated when everyone scrambled into the van, and it was clear that he wanted her to sit next to him.”

Foster continued, “On the way to the movie theater, he turned to her and said, ‘Lisa, here. Come here. Sit here.’ He said it just like a regular man, not in that little-boy voice of his. It was like, ‘You’re going to sit with me, woman,’ and she did. I was very impressed, but I was also confused. I mean, Who was this guy? Maybe she brought the testosterone out in him. I don’t know. But I know this: She loved him. And that relationship became one of the biggest tabloid nightmares of all time.”

Lisa Marie Presley’s family has announced she will be buried at Graceland in Memphis and honored in a public memorial service there on January 22, 2023.

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