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January 16th,  2018   -   Sheryl DeVore for The Chicago Tribune   /   Elvis Express Radio
When she was 14 years old and living with her military family in Germany, Priscilla Presley (then Priscilla Beaulieu) dreamed of living on a horse ranch. She certainly didn't think of
meeting and eventually marrying one of the world's most iconic rock stars.

But as she tells people who have attended her presentation, "Elvis & Me: An Evening with Priscilla Presley," she knew she was in love when Elvis waved goodbye to her when he was
leaving his station in the U.S. Army in Germany to return to the states.

"He told me he'd be looking for me," recalled Presley, who will bring her program including home movies and photos as well as a question and answer period to Genesee Theatre
Feb. 2.

"He also told me, 'I don't want any sad faces. I want a smile.' Just seeing him walk up the stairs, I realized my life would be empty without him."

Priscilla married Elvis at the age of 21, bore and raised his only child, Lisa Marie Presley, and went on to deal with some very difficult times, including one of the most challenging of
all, as she said, "women."

He was a complex man filled with vulnerabilities as well as confidence and charisma, she has said. They divorced in 1973, but she remained close to him until his death in 1979, she
said, and she has fond memories of their time together.

Presley is co-founder and former chairwoman of Elvis Presley Enterprises, the company that turned Graceland into one of the top tourist attractions in the United States. She's also
acted in the three "Naked Gun" films, and played the role of Jenna Wade on the long-running television series "Dallas."

A few years ago Priscilla decided to meet with Elvis fans in small to medium settings to answer questions about her life with him and her life without him.

"I started reading some excerpts from some of the books that are out there. I am so appalled at so many different versions and so many people putting out their perceptions of life
with Elvis Presley," she said. "I decided I have to get some truth out there. I can't live the rest of my life knowing this is out there — a lot of it is about our relationship."

Presley said one of the inaccuracies in many books is that her father encouraged her to pursue Elvis Presley after he returned to the states from Germany when she was 14 years

"That never happened," she said. When Elvis returned to the U.S., her father told her to face reality, that life would be back to normal again.

My parents "never expected Elvis to call me."

But call her he did, sharing his worries about whether his fans would embrace him after returning from the Army.

Presley said the fans she speaks with at her presentations ask her what kind of father Elvis was, what kind of conversations she had with him regarding his mother, whom he lost
while he was in the Army, and what were his real dreams.

They also want to know if she was jealous of the women in Elvis' life. "I'm willing to answer all those questions," she said. "I want to put the truth out there."

She also wants to share what their life was like when he wasn't performing — "intimate times when we'd have picnics at our little ranch in Mississippi," or spending time in Graceland.
"I have photos I share with the audience. They love it because I tell them stories about them," she said.

"In every way — life of rock 'n' roll is not your normal life. It's not a glamorous life of what people make it look like. It's a tough life — that was a challenge and I do share that," Presley

Her favorite memory of being with Elvis, she said, was sharing their love of horses.

"I think of us riding up and down in front of Graceland … that was some downtime he loved. I think of sharing part of the early mornings, our walk into the barn, and he would just
talk. It was our time."

She also tells her audience how devastated she was when he died. "He was always there for me. We had a very close relationship," she said of the man who became addicted to
drugs during his rise to fame.

She also will talk about the relationship she had with Elvis' father. "There's a story there as well about his journey and how difficult it was for him."

Presley is narrating and producing an HBO documentary, "Elvis Presley: The Searcher," which will be out in the spring. " It's truly about revealing so much behind the scenes of Elvis'
career, the pressure he had, the disappointments he had that so many people don't know about," she said. The documentary begins when Elvis was a child and continues to his
recording sessions in 1976.

Presley said of the roughly 700 songs Elvis sang there is one that most touches her heart. "An American Trilogy," which includes parts of the songs "Dixieland" and "Battle Hymn of
the Republic."

"I brought that song to him and it was just the right song for him," she said. "It was how he felt about his county, the south and about his maker."

Sheryl DeVore is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.
Elvis & Me: An Evening with Priscilla Presley
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 2
Where: Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee St., Waukegan
Tickets: $26-$58
Information: 847-263-6300;

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