Axl Rose Plays ‘November Rain’ + Gives Emotional Speech at Lisa Marie Presley’s Memorial Service
Lisa Maria Presley, daughter of rock 'n' roll legend Elvis Presley, was laid to rest at a public memorial ceremony yesterday (Jan. 22) at Graceland. The event was well-attended and featured performances from Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan and Alanis Morissette, as well as Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose, who delivered a speech before playing a piano-only version of "November Rain."
Presley died at the age of 54 on Jan. 12 after suffering full cardiac arrest at her home in Calabasas, California, which is where paramedics arrived and administered CPR before transporting her to a local area hospital. She was remembered by many, including Rose, who counted her as a friend and recalled warm memories about their friendship in a statement shortly after her passing.
At the Graceland ceremony, Corgan was the first to deliver a musical performance, playing the Smashing Pumpkins song "To Sheila" off the 1998 album Adore. The next musical tribute came from singer-songwriter Morissette, who performed her 2021 song "Rest."
Later on, Rose walked up to the podium and read a prepared speech from his phone, acknowledging that he originally did not plan to speak at the memorial but agreed to do so after being "put on the spot."
His words, which were delivered with a bit of a tremble as a range of emotions were clearly in play, were thoughtful and touching while still reflecting how fresh and difficult the news of her death is. Rose noted Presley's passion for family and she was "fiercely protective" of her father Elvis' musical legacy.
Immediately after the speech, Rose took a seat on a piano bench and played a solo rendition of the Use Your Illusion I hit "November Rain."
Read Rose's full speech (transcription via Blabbermouth) directly below. Watch fan-shot footage of both the speech and "November Rain" further down the page, where you can also find a fully archived video of the complete memorial service. Photos from the event can be viewed as well.
Axl Rose's Memorial Speech
With Lisa's passing, I knew if I was invited, I needed to come to these ceremonies. I hadn't planned on speaking, and when I was put on the spot, I really didn't know what to say. And I was tongue-tied and nervous. And I didn't even really know what I said. But I, as I'm sure many of you are still in shock, as I feel I'll continue to be for quite some time. I feel like I'm supposed to be texting her, like right now, saying I'm here, telling her how wonderful everyone is.
I never in a million years imagined singing here, and especially under these circumstances," he continued. "This is truly devastating and I'm sure excruciating for everyone here and all of those affected by her passing. At the same time, one can see how hard everyone's worked, and is working, to make this as beautiful for Lisa as it can be and is. I'm honored to be here for Lisa and her family.
I don't know that I deserve to be here, especially speaking amongst those that have known Lisa for longer and were much closer than her and I, especially her family and those that have known her most of their lives or even all of hers. I do know Lisa loved her family very much, and was fiercely protective of her father, his legacy and both her love for him and his love for her.
She was extremely proud, as proud as anyone could ever be of her father and his many accomplishments, his place in music, America and American and world history. She was also very proud of the 'Elvis' movie, and how she felt it portrayed her father, and the care that was put into the film by those involved — Mr. Luhrmann's vision and direction, and Austin Butler's dedication to the role of her father.
With Ben's passing, Lisa's life, and the rest of her family, and his loved ones, took a turn down a hard road that she was honoring to the best of her abilities, seeking out help and choosing to help others who experienced or were experiencing such a loss and pain.
We are gathered here today to pay our respects to Lisa and her family, and to share our memories, console one another to the degree that we're able. And though under such difficult, heartbreaking and somber circumstances, also to celebrate the life of a friend, a loved one, a beautiful and good soul and a cherished and deeply missed family member.
Lisa's loved and missed by many, and will continue to be loved and missed by all those whose lives she touched.