Axl Rose was among several music stars to honor Lisa Marie Presley during the late singer-songwriter’s public memorial service at Graceland on Sunday (Jan. 22).
In a rare speaking appearance, the Guns N’ Roses frontman took the stage at the Memphis gathering — which was livestreamed from Graceland’s website — to share some heartfelt words about his close friend before performing a solo rendition of the GNR classic “November Rain.”
“With Lisa’s passing, I knew if I was invited I needed to come to these ceremonies,” Rose began his emotional statement, reading from a cell phone. “I hadn’t planned on speaking, and when I was put on the spot, I really didn’t know what to say. I was tongue-tied and nervous, and I didn’t really know what I said. But I, as I’m sure many of you, are still in shock, as I feel I will continue to be for quite some time.”
Rose continued, “I never in a million years imagined being here, singing under these circumstances.”
The rock icon also noted how Lisa Marie was “fiercely protective” of her father Elvis Presley‘s legacy.
“She was extremely proud, as proud as anyone could be, of her father and his many accomplishments and place in music. 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 — [director Baz Luhrmann’s] vision and direction, and Austin Butler’s dedication to the role of her father.”
Following his speech, Rose sat down at a nearby piano to deliver a shortened version of Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion I hit “November Rain,” which reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1992.
In addition to Rose, the memorial service also included musical tributes from Billy Corgan, who performed an acoustic rendition of the Smashing Pumpkins song “To Sheila,” and Alanis Morissette, who sang her 2017 song about mental health “Rest.”
Other speakers included Lisa Marie’s mother, Priscilla Presley; Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York; music industry veteran Jerry Schilling; and daughter Riley Keough’s husband, Ben Smith-Petersen; among others.
Lisa Marie died on Jan. 12 after being hospitalized earlier in the day following a report of a woman in full cardiac arrest at an address associated with Presley. She was 54 years old.
Watch Rose’s emotional speech and “November Rain” performance beginning at the one-hour mark of the memorial livestream here.