Aside from having his mother’s eyes, Navarone Garibaldi Garcia isn’t immediately recognizable as the son of actress Priscilla Presley, the 77-year-old ex-wife of Elvis.
“A lot of people know about me,” the musician states in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. “But they don’t know me.”
Though he remained largely out of the spotlight growing up, Navarone, 35, says his lineage loomed.
“I got in trouble more than everybody else, because kids’ parents would find out who my mom was, and they’d want a reason to talk to her,” he says. “I wasn’t very comfortable with it.”
Recently, he was brought back into the public eye when he attended a memorial at Graceland for his half-sister Lisa Marie Presley on Jan. 22. The only daughter of Elvis and Priscilla, Lisa Marie died suddenly of apparent cardiac arrest at age 54 on Jan. 12.
“It’s still so surreal,” Navarone says of the loss, another dark blip in a lifetime of ups and downs.
With his new song “Acid Plane” with his band Them Guns out on Friday, Navarone is finally ready to tell the world his story, including life with his famous mom, his recovery from fentanyl addiction and discovering the truth about the background of his father, producer Marco Garibaldi.
Navarone’s story begins in the early ’80s, when Priscilla met Garibaldi through friends. A few months after the birth of Navarone, their only child together, in 1987, Priscilla received a call from one of Garibaldi’s exes warning her that “he’s not who you think he is,” Navarone says. “My mom pretty much said, ‘Don’t call here again,’ because she didn’t know what to do with that information.”
Priscilla stuck to her routine, which also meant not playing Elvis’ music around the house.
“I think my dad had a bit of a complex about it,” Navarone says. “It wasn’t until after he left that my mom started playing his music again freely.”
Priscilla and Garibaldi parted ways in 2006 after 20 years as a couple; they never married. It wasn’t until the split that Navarone became close with his dad.
“The disciplinarian role didn’t work between us, but the friend role did,” he recalls. “He wanted someone to go out drinking with.”
At 18, Navarone distanced himself from his family in L.A. by moving nearly six hours away to Santa Cruz, where he later formed Them Guns.
“It was an escape,” he says. “It was a fresh start. Santa Cruz is a little portal that sucks you in.”
His bubble burst in 2008 when a reporter at the National Enquirer found out that he was growing marijuana at his home.
“It ended up on the front page,” he says. “Everybody knew who my family was again.”
By 2012, Navarone — who had been in another band as a teen — returned to L.A. to pursue music with Them Guns.
“I thought, ‘OK, I’m going into the family business. I’ll write a song, and then we’ll start touring it,'” he says. “I didn’t realize it takes way more than that.”
While he recognizes he’s been lucky to have his mom’s help and connections, he says it’s a “misconception that I was raised extravagantly with Elvis’ estate and money … That wasn’t the case.”
While Navarone’s half-sister Lisa Marie also made a foray into the music business with the release of her debut album in 2003, the two weren’t close in the years leading up to her death.
In 2017, Navarone’s life changed when he confirmed some truths about his dad — whom he had believed to be from a wealthy Italian family — that he says he hadn’t been told before.
After reaching out to a teenager from Brazil who had contacted him years before claiming to be his “cousin,” Navarone learned his dad had come to the United States from Brazil — not Italy — and changed his last name from Garcia to Garibaldi after being told he’d never make it in Hollywood with a Hispanic last name.
Navarone says when he confronted his father, Garibaldi told him, “Lose my number.” That was the last time they spoke.
Two weeks after learning about his extended family, Navarone flew to Brazil to meet them.
“I lost one family member, but I gained 20-plus,” he says. “I have zero regrets.”
He ended up having to cut his trip short though because of another secret.
“My family there didn’t know I had a drug problem, and I was so ashamed to tell them,” he says. “I promised I wouldn’t come back again until my problem was resolved.”
Navarone’s problem with drugs began in his teen years, when he started using heroin. He then became addicted to fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.
“I was under the impression I was doing heroin, but then it’d turn out to be fentanyl,” he says. “That was a whole different beast. I became so addicted that I’d need it every 45 minutes.”
He got clean from hard drugs and opioids in 2020, in part so he could visit his now wife Elisa (whom he married in 2022) in her home country of Switzerland.
“When COVID happened, I wanted to go there and see her for more than three or four days. I didn’t want to have to bring a pound of fentanyl with me anywhere I went,” he says. “I buckled down and said, ‘Let’s see how bad this can get.'”
From there, he spent a month detoxing at his mom’s house.
“I was pretty much in my bed in the fetal position all day,” says Navarone, who still smokes marijuana and drinks alcohol. “It feels like a different lifetime, almost. The whole world got a lot better [afterward].”
Notes his bandmate Kyle Hamood: “It’s a night-and-day difference. It’s like we have the old Navarone back.”
Now Navarone says it’s his turn to support Priscilla after Lisa Marie’s death, which came two yearsafter Priscilla’s grandson Benjamin died by suicideat age 27. Despite his mother’s petition contesting anamendment to Lisa Marie’s will that names her two oldest children, Riley, 33, and Benjamin, as sole trustees of her estate, Navarone says he is close to his oldest niece.
“Riley has been so good with the twins,” he says, referring to Lisa Marie’s daughters Finley and Harper, 14, with ex-husband Michael Lockwood.
Later this year, Navarone plans to take his mom to Brazil.
“She was there in the ’80s, but I think she needs a reminder of how nice it is,” he says. “I would love to move there someday.”
He is also hoping to go on an international tour with Them Guns and finally put himself on the map as a successful musician.
“There were some points where I didn’t think I’d make it here,” he says. “I’m so proud of how far I’ve come.”