NME’s Columnist Katherine Ryan On Priscilla Presley

What I’m certainly not going to do in this week’s column is call anyone a paedo. I want to make this absolutely clear. No one is a paedo. Your secret’s safe with me. I mean, Whoa! What secret? That was close. But… (and it’s a massively consenting adult butt) I’ve been wondering lately about the media’s take on historical accounts of abuse by celebrities, and what the criteria for outing them might be. R Kelly married Aaliyah when she was just 15, but that’s all fine for some reason. He had been her mentor, producer and the lead songwriter on her debut album, ‘Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number’ which was recorded when Aaliyah was 14. The lead track helped define R&B in the ’90s and remains, to me, the anthem of grooming. There would be allegations about R Kelly’s involvement with other underage girls in the years following Aaliyah’s death, but he’s got a new album coming out soon so, you know. Unlike his 2013 album, ‘Black Panties’, this one’s got a single all about barbecuing! And hopefully a few more about Christmas jumpers and how kids say the darndest things.

Priscilla Presley was in London recently promoting ‘Elvis At The O2’, the largest Elvis retrospective in Europe; an exhibition of his legacy through more than two million personal artefacts from Elvis’ Graceland home. She spoke on Loose Women (hey listen, I had a day off) about her ex-husband as a woman who’d never fallen out of love with him. “We were very close after our divorce. We were very loving… I was with him for 15 years. Here are some bongos I bought him when I was 14. I mean, what does a 14-year-old girl get Elvis for his birthday?!” How about a f***ing restraining order!! Urgh. So she’s counting the time before she and Elvis Presley were officially married. She was indeed 14 when the two met at a party in Germany. Soon after, Priscilla moved to America to be with Elvis but lived with his parents to finish high school instead while he gallivanted around Hollywood, denying affairs with his co-stars. Priscilla’s dad reportedly pushed the marriage anyway, stating that Elvis should stick to his agreement.

Yes, it was a long time ago. But what – because we like Elvis Presley, we just sweep it under the rug? Well I don’t like Elvis Presley. And I also find something very sinister in Priscilla – the Scientologist – Presley shopping around everything he ever touched in her mobile museum. It took her less than 30 seconds on the ITV chat show to remind us to buy the new album,‘If I Can Dream’, his 12th chart-topping record in the UK, released posthumously, of course, for what would have been The King’s 80th birthday. Priscilla is executive producer on it. She asks Elvis’ adoring public to “keep his legacy going”, but just replace “his legacy” with “my tennis lessons” and you’ve got what I heard.

If there’s a lesson here – which there is not – I guess it’s to try to be the child bride of a very successful hoarder. No. It’s, uh, not to die in a plane crash? Wait. Maybe we can have it all: great music made by people who don’t marry teens. A girl can only dream.