Wynonna Judd has been rocked by the death of her friend, Lisa Marie Presley. While preparing for her upcoming tour, ET’s Rachel Smith spoke with the 58-year-old musician about the sudden passing of Lisa Marie. The day after Lisa Marie’s death, Wynonna shared a touching photo to Instagram of herself with the only daughter of Elvis and Priscilla Presley.
“I was so shocked, and it kicked my butt because she’s 54 years old and I’m 58,” Wynonna tells ET. “And when you go through something like this, it’s just bizarre. It’s hard to comprehend.”
ET can confirm that Lisa Marie was laid to rest alongside her son, Benjamin Keough, in Graceland’s Meditation Garden. She died on Jan. 12 after going into cardiac arrest.
Wynonna, who lost her mother, Naomi Judd, to suicide in 2022, opened up about struggling with grief.
“I’m not one of those people that says, you know, I’m praying for you, or, you know, my prayers and my condolences, because I’ve been going through it myself,” she explains. “And it’s so heavy. It’s too heavy to talk about it right now. Maybe in some time, when we give it some time for things to settle. I just think, right now, I can’t imagine what they’re going through.”
She adds, “I know what I went through. And when people say stuff like, ‘They’re in a better place,’ I don’t want her to be in a better place. I want her to be here with me. That’s selfish, but that’s human response. So the human response for me is just love the ones you’re with. Love the ones you’re with. That and forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness. That’s on my list every single day.”
Wynonna has a close connection to the Presley family. Her stepfather, Larry Strickland, used to perform as a backup singer for Elvis in the ’70s with the gospel group, The Stamps Quartet. Wynonna herself has also done many covers of hit Elvis songs, including “Burning Love,” which was featured on the soundtrack for the Disney film, “Lilo & Stitch”.
As for her own mother, Wynonna wants fans to remember Naomi for the character she was.
“One of the most tough and tender women I’ve ever known in my life,” Wynonna says of Naomi. “I just think that she is the most colorful character I have ever known. And I’m talking, we go into a store, the guy’s standing there going, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s the Judds,’ and she closes the door, gets up on the counter and starts dancing. That’s my mother.”
The death of her mother also brought Wynonna and her actress sister, Ashley Judd, together in new ways after years of estrangement.
“We have one of the most difficult conversations we’ve ever had. And we got through it. And nobody was hurt,” Wynonna shares. “And I thought it’s a remarkable thing to have someone in your life that you’re so different from but that you can meet somewhere in the middle about. That’s what peace talk is, and that’s what we’re doing, and it works. When you work it and you’re worth it.”
Wynonna is channeling her grief into her music, sharing, “I’m gonna tour. I’m will tour until I can’t tour.”
“The music is what remains, just like love. And the greatest of these is love,” she says. “The greatest of these is the music that comes from such a deep place in here, comes out through here, and into the audience and they just feel it.”
The Judds: The Final Tour starts Thursday, Jan. 26.
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