“The way Elvis destroyed himself interests me, because I don’t ever want to walk those grounds myself.”
- Michael Jackson, Moon Walk (1988)
But apparently the King of Pop changed his mind about The King of Rock, the father-in-law he never met.
On MySpace, Lisa Marie Presley recalled how one day in 1993, her husband told her “with an almost calm certainty, ‘I am afraid that I am going to end up like him, the way he did.'” The King’s daughter concluded: “The exact scenario I saw happen on August 16th, 1977, happened again with Michael just as he predicted.”
Who else might have foreseen that such a bright star, in his attempt to surpass even Elvis, would become so much like him that he would suffer the same tragic fate?
From the beginning of his career at age six, “I dreamed of creating the biggest-selling record of all time,” Michael wrote. He achieved this goal in 1984 with his historic Thriller. But his appetite for the throne was only whetted.
“If Elvis is supposed to be the King, what about me?” he would often say. Then, in 1989, after his chart-topping Bad, Michael was proclaimed the “King of Pop.” But he still felt he hadn’t surpassed the King of Rock.
“The most important thing to him was his legacy,” declared his longtime manager, Bob Jones. “He feared the fates of Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis, Jr...Michael desired to be remembered and worshipped like Elvis.”
The future King of Pop had met the King of Rock and his daughter in late 1974 while performing with the Jackson Five in Las Vegas. Michael, 16 then, was on his way up; Elvis, pushing 40 and terminally addicted, was on his way down.
Elvis's drug habit had begun for professional reasons: he took speed in the late fifties to keep up his exhausting national tours. Michael started taking painkillers to endure his own demanding schedule after his Pepsi burn accident.
Both stars were blessed and cursed with an unstoppable, all-consuming drive. The once poor boy from Tupelo called ambition “a dream with a V8 engine,” and the once poor boy from Gary would surely have agreed. The superhuman aspirations of both kings had originally been spurred by two musical visionaries.