Priscilla Presley, the King’s widow: “The film manages to resurrect Elvis and plays him perfectly”

Although Priscilla Beaulieu moved in with Elvis Presley in 1962, having met a few years earlier while he was serving in the US Army, I didn’t know how shocking it was to see the King live. Since the early 1960s, he had devoted himself entirely to his film career, putting aside the years of swaying his hips to the ecstasy of audiences. Only towards the end of the decade, when Presley returned to appear in a big way, only then was he able to gauge the significance of the legend.

“Believe it or not, the first time I saw him perform to a large audience was at his first show in Las Vegas.”, account by phone to Cult. It was on July 31, 1969, eleven days after the arrival of man on the moon, at the International Hotel. An event that marked the beginning of a string of 57 shows in the same place, in which Presley was encouraged to sing several of the songs from his early days. (dog, Love me tenderamong others), accompanied by a band of very competent musicians (such as guitarist James Burton, to whom Elvis sang happy birthday on stage), a large orchestra and not one, but two female vocal groups (Sweet Inspirations and The Imperials ).

Years later, the album Live 1969 brought together the recordings of that milestone, in which Elvis demonstrated his ability to unfold in fields such as rock, r&b, country, soul, and even a particular medley in which he brought together Yesterday Y hey judefrom The Beatles.

After years in the world of cinema, Elvis Presley returned to live shows at the Las Vegas International Hotel in July 1969. That was the first time his then-wife, Priscilla, was able to see him live.

At 77 years old, that night of glory still excites Priscilla. “I had never seen him act, you have to remember that when I met him, he was basically in the movie business and he hadn’t appeared on stage since ’61. So when I saw him perform in Vegas, I was like, ‘Oh wow, this is what it’s all about.’

The woman who married Elvis in 1967, to divorce after five years with a daughter in between, today is the greatest guardian of his legacy. For this reason, she will be in Chile as the host of the Elvis Symphonic show, which will be presented on September 28 at the Caupolicán Theater. This presents the King on screen singing his hits to the live accompaniment of an orchestra, taking advantage of the versions worked on for the posthumous albums. If I Can Dream Y The Wonder of You. “I am very excited to come to Chile, so I hope everything goes well and that everyone loves the show,” she says.

The occasion allows to appreciate the repertoire and the interpretative capacity of Elvis in all its extension; from the rock songs of his early years, to the ballads with which he excelled in the days of casinos and sequins. “That was his entire repertoire, he had rock and roll, but he loved ballads -Priscilla remembers- I asked her once why she liked ballads so much and she told me it was because we all have emotions, we all have a life to go through certain things. We are all connected in that way, so we can all hear and experience that. So she had a connection with her audience because she felt like he was telling them real things.”

REUTERS/Aude Guerrucci

Priscilla confirms what has been told for years; Despite his spectacular staging and his famous costumes, Elvis was rather taciturn and reserved in the run-up to the shows. Perhaps saving the concentration for the decisive moment. He didn’t like being around people -bill-. She wanted to be alone in her dressing room most of the time. Of course, a couple of the guys might be there, but they knew they had to be quiet and let it go before they went onstage. He wanted to be in his own world, not speaking, so he could prepare quietly. Someone asked him if he ever got nervous before going to a show and he said, ‘Absolutely, I’m a human being. I get nervous like everyone else. You never know with an audience. you never know You have to grab them, you have to bring them into your world.’ So he liked to be very quiet.”

Elvis Presley was a man who spoke only what was necessary. Even when choosing the songs that he was going to perform, because he was particularly selective. “His publishers would send him boxes of songs,” Priscilla recalls. Because if he had to do a recording session, he’d listen to the songs and then pick the ones he liked.” But over the years of living together, she herself was encouraged to show him material. It was what happened with An American Trilogy, a medley of old 19th century American songs, which the King used to perform towards the end of his shows as if to mark an epic moment.

“I was driving down Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles,” he recalls. I heard the song and I was like, ‘oh my God, I have to go get this song right now.’ I went to the record store, bought it, gave it to Elvis and he loved it. He immediately told me, ‘hey where did you get this from?’

The legend of Elvis Presley has his update in the Baz Luhrmann biopic, which has been a worldwide box office success, achieving the not inconsiderable mark of unseating Top Gun: Maverick in its first weekend on display in the United States. The film, still showing in some Chilean theaters, was seen by Priscilla at a private screening hosted by the director at Warner Studios, which she attended with Jerry Schilling, one of the members of the singer’s close circle; the famous “Memphis mafia”, made up of friends, collaborators, cousins ​​and other scoundrels on duty.

When Elvis’s widow is asked about Austin Butler’s work in the title role, her reaction is quick; she without any doubt she could recognize it in the gestures of the young actor. “I really like the movie. My God, she was hypnotized, she couldn’t believe it! with Jerry we were very quiet because we didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know where Baz was going to go with the film, but about three-quarters of the way through, we both looked at each other and said, wow, he had everything on Elvis. He played it amazingly, really perfectly.”

In the film, the role of Priscilla is played by actress Olivia DeJonge. She is shown to be a self-sacrificing woman and often holds Elvis back. But also, as a heavy cross bears in silence the constant infidelities of the King, assuming that somehow his great love was the stage. A tension that was growing, until the excesses, the pills and the problems derived from the dealings of Colonel Parker, the historical manager, made a definite dent in the marriage.

Priscilla says she gave DeJonge her blessing, though at this point she speaks of herself in the third person. As if she had seen herself represented on the big screen she still surprised him. “We talked on the phone before he made the movie. -bill-. She liked me immediately. I liked her feelings and her voice, a very nice girl. She did a really, really good job of showing her as someone who was sensitive, who was in tune with him (Elvis) and cared about him.”

But in fiction, every hero has a counterpart. Thus, the film shows Colonel Parker, in the skin of an unrecognizable Tom Hanks, as an unscrupulous hustler who took advantage of his moment to get the representation of Elvis and thus obtain the maximum benefit, such as keeping half of his star’s money.

Accustomed to the world of entertainment, Priscilla puts cold cloths when it comes to detailing her memories of one of the most controversial characters in the King’s history. “Colonel Parker had two personalities -it states-. He had a personality when he was Elvis’s manager and administrator, where he took care of making all the deals for him. Listen, Elvis’s job was to perform on stage and do the best he could, so the Colonel took care of all the backstage stuff.”

“But about his other personality, outside the business, the truth is that I never had a problem with him,” he clarifies immediately. I liked it when it was just Colonel Parker, his wife, Elvis and I having dinner at his house. There he had a different personality because he had no competitionHe had no deal to manage, no business to talk about. So yes, personality-wise, there were two Colonel Parkers.”

Priscilla Presley defends Elvis

Priscilla Presley is still surprised by the phenomenon surrounding the biopic. “Ella is still playing in theaters here (in the US) and in fact, from what I understand around the world, people are seeing it more than once. I posted how many times have you seen the movie? a man said 34 times 34 times! I still can not believe it. The last thing I looked at, the movie made $215 million and that’s unbelievable. I have to say that Baz is a genius for what he did, since he brought Elvis back to life. When I first saw the movie, I thought, oh, this is going to bring a generation of young people to see what Elvis is really about. You’ve seen it maybe in his movies, but to see this Austin guy how he captured the spirit of Elvis… I mean, my daughter and I looked at each other and we were like, ‘Jesus, he did a beautiful job.’”

The story of Elvis and Priscilla, formally, ended with their divorce in February 1972. A few weeks later, he recorded always on my mind, a ballad that first passed through the voice of Brenda Lee, but that reached its definitive version in the powerful interpretation of the King, perhaps as a farewell to a bond that marked his life. And by the way, it sounds towards the end of Baz Luhrmann’s film. For this reason, mythology associates that song as a sort of farewell to the woman who marked Presley’s life.

When Priscilla is asked if this is true, she can’t help but shudder. “Like I told you, he loved ballads. Now, I’m not saying that he sang that for me. I’m just saying that in part yes, we had a very good relationship and we never stopped loving each other. But I would like to think that this song was really for his audience, for his people that he loved.. And I don’t want to say it was because of me because the song was chosen by Baz for the end of the movie, but because of our great relationship and because we always take care of each other. I’d like to think it was for me, but to be fair, I think he chose that song with his friends in mind, like it was for them and their fans.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker