MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - It's been 40 years since the world lost the King of Rock 'n' Roll. As fans pay tribute to the late Elvis Presley, one of his former live-in loves is telling all about her relationship with our hometown icon and two other famous men.
Elvis Presley, Bruce Jenner (before we met Caitlyn), and Grammy-legend David Foster all have one thing in common: Linda Thompson.
Hundreds of Elvis fans lined up to meet the Memphis-native as she signed copies of her book, A Little Thing Called Life: On Loving Elvis, Bruce Jenner, and Songs in Between.
"You know there's only two women who ever really lived with Elvis: Priscilla and me. And you know, the old adage you don't really know someone until you live with them really holds true," Thompson said in an exclusive interview. "It was amazing. You know, there were magical moments. There were fantasy fairy tale moments, you know. He was like Prince Charming. He was like Santa Claus."
Thompson's love affair with the King lasted 4.5 years.
"He was like an angel incarnate, until he wasn't. Then he could be the devil incarnate when his temper got the best of him," she said.
For the most part, Thompson recalls the good times with Elvis.
"He was just an extraordinary person, who was larger than life, more generous than anyone I've ever met. Kinder, sweeter, more loving, tender. When Elvis said 'I love you,' you felt it. You felt it to your core," she said.
Thompson said her decision to end the relationship was a difficult one.
"I wanted to have children. I wanted to have a more normal life, and I knew I could never have that with Elvis. And ironically, as we know in the book--if you've read the book--ironically, I thought I had found that normal with the world's greatest athlete, the all-American and impossibly masculine Bruce Jenner. And we did have a very normal wonderful life for a few years, before the stiletto heel dropped," she said.
That stiletto belongs to Caitlyn Jenner, who is the father of Thompson's two sons.
"I knew Bruce Jenner. Fell in love with him and was shocked to discover her. And divorced him because of her. Can you swallow that?" she laughed.
Thompson said she kept Caitlyn's secret for 30 years, though her marriage did not last that long.
"I definitely wanted to honor his secret, and I did for 30 years. I didn't even tell my children until they were 29 and 31, respectively. And they were grateful for that, by the way, because they said 'Mom, if you had told us when we were 13 or 14 it might have threatened us and our own identity. But we're grown now. We're fully secure in the men we are. And it doesn't impact us. It doesn't define us,'" she recalled. "Certainly no one comprehends better than I that it's a difficult thing to understand transgender--especially when it's your husband and the father of your children that you now have to call Caitlyn. So I get the complexity of it. But again, we don't have to understand it to be kind, to be tolerant."
Thompson is kind when talking about her later marriage to music superstar David Foster.
"Oh yeah, him. Oh Dave," she laughed.
The two collaborated on the massive hit, "I Have Nothing," recorded by Whitney Houston for The Bodyguard soundtrack.
Now 12-years single, Thompson is writing the next chapter in a life that has been truly fascinating.
"Clearly I like musicians and athletes - OK?! So!" she laughed.
Thompson's book is a New York Times Bestseller.
She said coming home to Memphis brings the memories rushing back, and that she will forever be moved by the tragedy of Elvis' death.
"Forty years after loving someone and having him pass away, I can still fly into Memphis, look down, see the meandering Mississippi River and still have that sort of visceral, gut reaction," Thompson said. "I'm still moved by the tragedy of his passing. I still love his memory, and I'm so grateful for all that he taught me and how he changed my life."