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LVIS FILM SPECIAL EDITION


“Before Elvis,

there was nothing...”

ALL THIS & MORE...

ELVIS SPEAKS

The only NME interview,

straight from our archive

SING IT, YOLA

Meet the Grammynominated

artist playing

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

GOLDEN BOY

Austin Butler on

snagging the role

of a lifetime

THE NEXT

GENERATION

Three shit-hot young

artists explain why we’re

still obsessed with Elvis

DEDICATED

FOLLOWER OF

FASHION

Memphis’ top tailor

gives us their retro

fashion tips

Those are the oft-repeated words of one John Lennon, who

knew a thing or two about being an icon. In honour of the

legendary singer, and director Baz Luhrmann’s besequinned,

big-screen biopic, we’ve cooked up this special print edition

of NME. In its pages we’ll roll back time to the birth of pop,

and bring you closer than ever to the one and only Elvis

Aaron Presley. Remember to pack those (blue suede)

dancing shoes, ’cos there’ll be a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on.

You’ll also meet the star of Elvis, Austin Butler – and hear

how music’s next generation is being inspired to follow in

the original rock rebel’s footsteps. Oh, and Baz himself

drops by to show us his ultimate playlist of songs that

spark his creative genius.

Thank you, thank you very much.

Alex Flood – Special Issue Editor

PRODUCED IN ASSOCIATION WITH WARNER BROS.

SPECIAL ISSUE EDITOR: Alex Flood CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Dan Stubbs ART DIRECTOR: Simon Freeborough SUB-EDITOR: Johnny Sharp

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ELVIS

Everything you need to know about

Elvis (the movie)

With a cinematic great directing, a breakout star

and a soundtrack to die for, Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis

is not your grandparents’ Elvis – it’s the real life,

totally modern story of the guy who invented

teenage rebellion. Here are some reasons to watch

A SUPERSTAR

IS BORN...

…And he’s on the cover of this

very magazine. Austin Butler,

who plays Elvis Aaron Presley

himself – at each stage of life

– has been acting since his

teens, but this is his biggest

role yet. Not only does Butler

look like he was born to play

Elvis – thanks to a strong

jawline, intense eyes and a

killer pout – he sounds like it

too. Many of Elvis’s best-loved

tracks have been specially

re-recorded for the movie. Get

lost in Austin in our big

interview, beginning on p14.

IT’S GOT TOM HANKS

LIKE YOU’VE NEVER

SEEN HIM BEFORE

Hollywood’s Mr Nice plays

carnie-turned-talent manager

Colonel Tom Parker, the man

who discovered Elvis, made

him famous and duly exploited

him in every possible way. A

complicated character, Parker

was a Dutchman, born Andreas

van Kuijk, who travelled illegally

to the US at 20, reinvented

himself as a southern gent and

lived as an “illegal alien”,

possibly explaining his curious

reluctance to let Elvis perform

overseas. While he was

certainly instrumental in

helping Elvis achieve success,

the relationship – viewed

through a 2022 lens – was toxic

and coercive. It’s a rare baddie

for Hanks.

BAZ IS BACK

Baz Luhrmann is the cinematic

auteur who made Romeo &

Juliet sexy, Moulin Rouge!

modern and The Great Gatsby

blingy. Just his sixth movie (he

goes big or goes home), Elvis

fits perfectly alongside those

ambitious epics. There’s a

reason nobody’s attempted to

tell the life story of the most

popular performer of all time,

and it’s because only a

cinematic giant would dare.

IT FEATURES

NEW TUNES FROM

DOJA CAT, KACEY

MUSGRAVES

AND MORE

Alongside Austin Butler’s

versions of Elvis hits,

performed in-character, the

soundtrack boasts Elvisinspired

recordings from some

of today’s hottest names,

including the reigning queen of

Nashville, Kacey Musgraves,

and fearless pop-rapper Doja

Cat. What else would you

expect from the director who

brought us Moulin Rouge!’s

all-star R&B banger ‘Lady

Marmalade’ (Christina

Aguilera! Mýa! Lil’ Kim! P!nk!)

THE AMBITION

IS AUDACIOUS

Born into poverty in

Mississippi, Elvis Presley was a

rocker, a Vegas showman, a

movie star, a GI in the US Army,

a husband, a father, a big kid,

an embodiment of the

American Dream, a fallen

icon, a caricature, a

comeback king… and much

more. Rather than take the

easy route and focus in on

one part of Elvis’ remarkable

life, Luhrmann set himself the

challenge of telling the full

story – from blowing away

audiences as a fearless

youngster to meeting his

future wife Priscilla (played

here to perfection by Olivia

DeJonge). To top it off, he’s

managed to cram in an entire

festival line-up’s worth of

legends, including Little

Richard, BB King, Sister

Rosetta Tharpe and more.

THE FASHION

WILL INSPIRE YOUR

NEW WARDROBE

If Alex Turner’s mid-career

glow-up made you swoon,

then Luhrmann’s take on Elvis

will show you where he got

some of his ideas from. Think

slick quiffs, rock’n’roll stylings

and the way his clothes

hung on those hips. If

Elvis doesn’t inspire a

catwalk trend, we’ll eat

our Blue Suede Shoes.

NME.COM


FROM THE ARCHIVE

ELVIS IN EUROPE

In 1960, NME writer Derek Johnson jetted over to Germany for a chat with Sergeant Presley

PHOTOS: WARNER BROS PICTURES; GETTY; MOVIESTORE COLLECTION; ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

ELVIS PRESLEY

treated me to one

o f h i s

smouldering,

heavy-lidded

glances, and the

corner of his mouth curled into

a faint smile. “I don’t know if I

shall manage to get to the top

again,” he said. “I only wish I

did know. I hear that trends

have changed, so it might be

pretty difficult for me. But I’ll

tell you this – I’m gonna try

hard.”

I was talking to Elvis in the

Ray Barracks, Friedburg, some

30 miles north of Frankfurt, just

before the singing phenomenon

flew back to America this week

for his discharge from the Army.

This was the first time Elvis had

been able to speak freely since

his arrival in Europe – and I was

there on behalf of the NME.

When I asked him about the

future, he was extremely

cautious – and a little

apprehensive. “I’m completely

away from showbusiness,” he

told me. “I only have

newspaper clippings to keep

me up to date with what’s

going on. That’s where the

NME comes in very useful – I

get it regularly… read every

week.”

FRESH

OPPOSITION

It occurred to me that Elvis

might be particularly concerned

about the new crop of singers,

who sprung up into the limelight

in his absence. So I asked what

he thought of his new rivals, like

Fabian and Frankie Avalon.

“Well to start with, I don’t

consider them as rivals,” he

explained. “I’ve always

believed that there’s room for

everyone in show business –

and if other people can make

it, then good luck to them.

I’ve been down the same

road they’re walking on now,

and I don’t begrudge them

their success one bit.”

Presley’s immediate plans

on discharge are to go home

and take a short rest, before

starting work with Frank Sinatra

on the television spectacular he

is doing at the beginning of May

– and the fi lm ‘GI Blues’, which

he is scheduled to make.

He has no definite recording

plans, although he assumes

that making new discs will be

one of the first items on his

schedule.

“I haven’t had a new

record out for ten months,

and that’s taking a big risk,”

he said.

BACK TO

REALITY

Will it be diffi cult for Elvis to

settle down in civvy street?

“Well, I guess it won’t be too

difficult to adjust myself from

108 dollars per month to

about a million per year,” he

grinned. “But I suppose it

won’t be too easy readjusting

to the entire life.”

I was most anxious to know

if Elvis intended to go back onto

the rigid rock’n’roll path. Didn’t

he perhaps consider that

he was getting too old for

a rocker?

“Well, I don’t know – that’s

the first time I’ve ever been

asked that question. But I

don’t think so – I’m not an old

man yet!”

What about Elvis’

movements, which have come

in for a great deal of criticism in

the past?

“I know they shocked a lot

of people, but they were all

spontaneous, I just couldn’t

help the way I presented my

songs – I guess it was just a

part of me.”

And those celebrated

sideburns? “I’ll let them

grown again a little, but they

won’t be as long as they

were. I reckon I got over

that kick!”

Elvis confirmed to me that he

is definitely contemplating

visiting Britain next year, as part

of a lengthy tour of Europe.

“It’ll be completely new

territory for me, and I’m

really looking forward to it,”

he declared.

By now, Elvis Presley is back

in America. And he’s taken with

him the best wishes of all NME

readers, which I delivered on

your behalf.

What’s more, I can assure

you that he was genuinely

pleased to receive them.

GETTING PERSONAL

WITH PRESLEY

• Has he lost any

weight since he’s

been in the Army?

“Yes, about ten

pounds. I tip the scales

at about 170 now.”

• Any thoughts on

getting married?

“I don’t know yet. I

guess I’ll wait until the

bug bites – and it

hasn’t bitten yet.”

• Has he sung at all

while he’s been in

Germany? “Only for

the guys in my platoon.”

• Is he taking any

souvenirs back

to America?

“Two German guitars

and a camera.”

NME.COM


FROM THE ARCHIVE

Elvis meets

The Beatles

In 1965, NME’s Chris

Hutchins intro’d the

Fab Four to their idol

at his Bel-Air home.

Fun was had by all

Elvis Presley was playing bass

guitar, with the benefit of a little

instruction from Paul McCartney;

the record they were backing

was Cilla Black’s ‘You’re My

World’. Suddenly John

exclaimed: “This beats talking,

doesn’t it?” And that’s how it was

– the world’s No.1 solo star and

world’s No.1 group were meeting

for the first time and

communicating through music.

Presley gave the occasional hint

of his famous wiggle, even

though seated in his chair

strumming the bass part to each

record. Elvis’s companions kept

up a supply of drinks for the

Beatles, but the host himself

neither touched one nor

accepted any cigarettes. Even in

this relaxed atmosphere I never

heard him swear. Shortly before

2am someone decided it was

time to go. ‘Softly As I Leave You’

was on the record player as the

Beatles shook hands with Elvis.

They all agreed that the meeting

was a highlight of their lives.

Legends

only

Tom Hanks

is a pro at

bringing history

to life. As he

prepares to

play Presley’s

villainous

manager

Colonel Tom

Parker in Elvis,

we list his

greatest factbased

roles

JIM LOVELL

Apollo 13 (1995)

In a nail-biting drama

about the Apollo 13

space mission, Hanks

plays Commander Jim

Lovell, who tries to bring

his crew home when

their shuttle suffers

catastrophic damage.

Most Hanks moment:

“Houston, we have a

problem” – Lovell

tells mission control the

shuttle is malfunctioning,

remaining calm as

everyone else panics.

CAPTAIN RICHARD

PHILLIPS

Captain Phillips (2013)

An American cargo ship

is hijacked by Somali

pirates, who take the

ship’s captain, played

by Hanks, hostage for

five days.

Most Hanks moment:

When the ordeal is finally

over, Phillips is treated

by medics, breaking

down in tears in one of

the most powerful

scenes in the actor’s

garlanded career.

CAPTAIN CHESLEY

SULLENBERGER

Sully (2016)

When both engines of

a passenger plane are

damaged mid-flight, its

pilot (Hanks) makes the

risky decision to land

on water. Everyone

survives. But was he a

hero or needlessly

reckless?

Most Hanks moment:

In a heart-in-mouth

sequence, Sully coolly

pilots a plane full of

screaming passengers.

BEN BRADLEE

The Post (2017)

In 1971, leaked papers

showed the US

government was lying

about the Vietnam War.

The Washington Post,

edited by Ben Bradlee

(Hanks), risks everything

to publish them.

Most Hanks moment:

Bradlee confronts his

boss, insisting the truth

is worth any price.

COLONEL

TOM PARKER

Elvis (2022)

In a rare bad guy role,

Hanks plays Parker, the

man who discovered

Elvis, but then exploited

him ruthlessly.

Most Hanks moment:

Riding on a ferris wheel,

that Hanks charm is

employed to flatter Elvis

into signing with Parker.

NME.COM


PHOTOS: GETTY


Not into the hip-swinging thing or the Vegas torch song thing? Don’t worry, Elvis wore many hats. And

suits. And capes, occasionally. Check out these lesser-known tracks from the back of Elvis’ cupboard

IN THE GHETTO

1969

Recorded in the same

batch as mega-hit

‘Suspicious Minds’, Elvis

got his mojo back at the

tail end of the 1960s. This

self-penned tale of a

desolate life in the

Chicago ghettos is

redolent of Presley’s own

not-a-pot-to-piss-in

childhood. Anyone for

squirrel kebab?

THAT’S ALL RIGHT

(MAMA)

1954

Here’s where it all began:

the very first song

recorded by Elvis Presley

for Sun Records. A cover

of a track by Arthur

Crudup (who features,

along with the song, in

Elvis), ‘That’s All Right

(Mama)’ was the moment

of rock’n’roll’s nuclear

fusion. We’ve been

living in the fallout zone

ever since.

SEE SEE RIDER

(LIVE)

1972

It’s no secret that Elvis

took great inspiration

from the gospel and blues

singers he was fortunate

enough to see as a child.

Here, he covers the

signature song by

so-called “Mother of the

Blues” Ma Rainey, subject

of the Netflix film Ma

Rainey’s Black Bottom.

BLUE MOON

1956

Set to the gentle trotting

of a horse, the young

Elvis’ haunting rendition

of the 1934 Rodgers and

Hart standard is spooky

and high-pitched, evoking

a lonesome cowboy in a

moonlit ghost town.

TOO MUCH MONKEY

BUSINESS

1968

This riotously fun track

was a hit for legendary

rock’n’roll pioneer and

unrepentant bad boy

Chuck Berry when he

released it as his fifth

single in 1956. Elvis’s

great version, released 12

years later, is something

of a curio in need of a

hunka your love.

DON’T THINK

TWICE, IT’S

ALL RIGHT

1971

You mightn’t see much

common ground

between Elvis and Bob

Dylan, one a glowingly

beautiful All-American

demigod, the other a

scribble-haired folkie

with heavily antiestablishment

ideals. Yet

Elvis was fond of Dylan’s

music, recording both

‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ and

this breezy reading of

‘Don’t Think Twice…’,

initially released in edited

form on 1973’s ‘Elvis’

album but since reissued

as a freewheeling

11-minute version.

YOGA IS AS

YOGA DOES

1967

If ever there was an Elvis

song waiting in the wings

for a modern day remix,

a spiritual successor to

Junkie XL’s reworking of

‘A Little Less

Conversation’ that was a

smash in 2002, it’s this

bonkers oompah song

about yoga, which

– considering Elvis was

an early adopter and had

practised since 1964 – is

oddly dismissive of it all.

“You tell me just how I

can take this yoga

serious/When all it ever

gives to me is a pain in

my posteriors,” it says.

DO THE CLAM

1965

This slice of bongofuelled

teenbeat

tropicalia appears in the

movie Girl Happy, in

which Elvis teaches a

beach full of shaggyhaired

beatniks and

hipsters how to do his

hip new dance, the one

to straighten out The

Twist and bake The

Mashed Potato – The

Clam! Wonder why it

never caught on?

ONE-SIDED

LOVE AFFAIR

1956

The perfect example of a

B-side overshadowing its

opposite number (A-side

‘Money Honey’ only

reached 76 in the charts),

this short and sharp hit

of skiffle-indebted

romcom rock deserves

its place on many an

‘unheard gems’ playlist.

STUCK ON YOU

1960

What’s the first thing you

do after getting

discharged from the

Army? Well, if you’re

Elvis, you head straight

to the studio and lay

down a Jerry Lee

Lewis-style piano-led

belter. ‘Stuck on You’

was the ex-soldier’s first

hit single after two years

in Germany. It was like

he’d never been away.

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

NME.COM


SOUNDTRACK

NEW

BANGERS

DOJA CAT

‘Vegas’

The all-conquering

pop-rapper joins the party

with a fiery, trap-flavoured

reworking of Big Mama

Thornton’s 1952 hit ‘Hound

Dog’, featuring vocals from

Shonka Dukureh (who

plays Willie Mae “Big

Mama” Thornton in the

film). Presley’s 1956 cover

of the song was a huge hit,

expect similar things for

Doja Cat’s stylish and

modern makeover.

KACEY MUSGRAVES

‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’

Where better place to

announce anything than at

the Met Gala? Country

queen Kacey Musgraves

unveiled her version of ‘

Can’t Help Falling In Love’

on the annual fashion

ball’s red carpet. She was

joined by the cast of Elvis,

director Baz Luhrmann

and Priscilla Presley.

MÅNESKIN

‘If I Can Dream’

Everyone’s fave Italian

glam rockers gave this

late ’60s ballad an initial

outing at Eurovision last

month. It went down a

treat, with singer Damiano

David’s husky vocals

adding a whole new

dimension to the

super-smooth ballad.

EMINEM

& CEELO GREEN

‘The King & I’

Marshall Mathers’ music

has always had a

cinematic flair, but now he

gets to write for

Hollywood’s biggest movie

of the summer too. His old

pal CeeLo Green supplies

the soulful licks to make

this ‘Jailhouse Rock’-

sampling groover a

must-listen.

NME.COM


ACT

SISTER

Yola is the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter playing rock pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Elvis

PHOTOS: WARNER BROS. PICTURES; JOSEPH ROSS SMITH


YOLA

YOLA’S

career is

something even

more stirring

than an overnight

success story:

it’s a triumph of

perseverance, self-belief and pure

talent. The Bristol-born artist has

toured as a member of Massive

Attack and written songs for Chase &

Status and Katy Perry, but now she’s

a star in her own right. With two

brilliant albums melding Americana,

soul, rock, doo-wop and disco, 2019’s

‘Walk Through Fire’ and 2021’s ‘Stand

for Myself’, this genre-fluid musician

has picked up six Grammy

nominations and established herself

as a major live draw who’s soon to

headline Glastonbury’s Leftfield

Stage. First up though she’s playing

Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the trailblazing

singer-guitarist who invented

rock’n’roll, in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis (as

well as contributing to the official

soundtrack). Here she discusses why

it’s such a pivotal role.

Hey Yola, how does Sister

Rosetta Tharpe feature in Elvis?

“Who she is in the film is who she was

in Elvis’ life: his raison d’être. He grew

up idolising her and would run home

from school to listen to her radio

show. He was drawn to music

because of his obsession with her, so

I come into the film as this incredible

point of inspiration. On the other side

of that, you have this person who

takes all of that inspiration, all of that

excitement, and destroys it: Colonel

Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks. He

and Sister Rosetta are almost the

antithesis of each other.”

Will we be shocked to see Tom

Hanks, who’s so universally

beloved, in such a villainous role?

“If there’s ever been a show of range

from Tom – and he’s had so many in

his career – it’s got to be this. I think it

stands to be an iconic moment in

cinematic history when we finally

meet a loathable Tom Hanks

character. I can’t wait for you to

see it; honestly, your mind’s going

to explode.”

Vocal point: Yola as Sister

Rosetta Tharpe in Elvis

Early in your career you were

told by a record exec that “no

one wants to see a Black woman

sing rock music”. Does it feel

amazing now to be playing the

Black woman who quite literally

invented rock’n’roll?

“It’s the ultimate ‘fuck you’. I grew up

listening to Sister Rosetta, so when I

heard that, I thought one thing: that

some people at the top of this

industry don’t necessarily know

about music. I realised you could be

an idiot and still be in a really high

position because of nepotism and

privilege. And from that point on,

I figured it was safe to assume that

this industry might not be a

meritocracy. You know, it took

everything for me to come from

nothing, from literally having lived on

the streets, to where I am today. And

it took a long time. So that moment

was just an early indicator of the way

it was going to be.”

You’re headlining Glastonbury’s

Leftfield stage on June 26.

Are you excited?

“For me, it feels like a real moment of

recognition without any kind of

asterisk or condition attached. You

know, I played Glastonbury in 2008

with Massive Attack. We headlined

the Other Stage and opened the set

with a song that I wrote (‘All I Want’).

And then I sang some songs they had

recorded with Shara Nelson and

Hope Sandoval. I was in this exalted

position, but I was attached to

someone else’s machine. So now, it

feels like a real uplift for me as an

artist to be headlining a stage like

this. And to be doing it with a record

that contains protest songs is

even sweeter.”

Finally, what do you want

people to think when they

hear the name Yola?

“I guess I’d like people to

recognise the unifying I’m doing in my

music. I like rock’n’roll, I like disco, I

like soul, I like Americana – and I find

myself in all those spaces. But those

spaces aren’t separate from one

another. Hopefully people will notice

that the connections I’m making

musically show that everything

is a lot more related than you

think. That’s the message I

want to spread.”

“Who she [Sister

Rosetta Tharpe] is

in the film is who

she was in real life:

Elvis’ raison d’être”


MEMPHIS

Fancy visiting the place that turned Elvis from skinny lad to legend?

Here’s a handy guide to the music of Memphis, from expert

Neil Cameron of The Elvis Travel Service

ILLUSTRATION: KAVEL RAFFERTY

1 2

3

4

NME.COM


1 4

THE FOODIE’S MECCA

ARCADE RESTAURANT

540 S Main St

“Opening in 1919, this is Memphis’

oldest restaurant and its authentic

1950s diner décor makes it feel like

stepping back in time. Try to sit at the

Elvis booth, where he would hang

with his friends (the venue was easily

escapable if mobbed by fans). It’s

been used as a location in countless

films and TV shows, such as Jim

Jarmusch’s Mystery Train, which

featured The Clash’s Joe Strummer.”

Insider tip: “Order the quintessential

Elvis dinner of fried peanut butter and

banana sandwich.”

THE MUST-VISIT MUSEUM

STAX MUSEUM OF

AMERICAN SOUL MUSIC

926 E McLemore Ave

“Starting as a record store in an

abandoned cinema, this grew to

become a massive recording studio

where Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding,

Sam & Dave – and yes, Elvis – all

made iconic tracks. In the age of

segregation, it broke boundaries by

having black and white musicians

working together.”

Insider tip: “Check out Isaac Hayes’

vintage Cadillac, his fantastic

gold-trimmed 1970s Pimp Mobile

lined with white rabbit fur.”

5

2 5

THE AVENUE OF DREAMS

THE HISTORIC VENUE

6

BEALE STREET

“This is one of the best music streets

in the world. Every bar and restaurant

has live music playing. Elvis would

sneak out as a teenager to go there,

and now it’s a tourist hotspot,

featuring Jerry Lee Lewis’ Café &

Tonk and B.B. King’s Blues Club

among its venues. Commemorating

Memphis’ blues heritage is Handy

Park – named after The Father of

Blues WC Handy – and there’s a

statue in his honour.”

Insider tip: “Visit the Rum Boogie

Café for the tunes and Blues City

Café for the food – or just grab a beer

from outside, have a stroll and soak

up the live performances.”

3

THE BIRTHPLACE

OF ROCK’N’ROLL

OVERTON PARK SHELL

1928 Poplar Avenue

“This outdoor amphitheatre is a

Memphis institution and the location

of Elvis’ first ever public concert back

in 1954. It’s where he got his

trademark gyrations from. He was so

nervous stepping onstage that his

knees and hips started shaking, and

as he did it, the audience went

wild for it and he realised he was

onto something.”

Insider tip: “Visit one of their free

outdoor shows, bring a blanket and

picnic and sit outside.”

6

THE CRATEDIGGER’S

PARADISE

SHANGRI-LA RECORDS

1916 Madison Ave

Club Handy: a favourite hangout

for musicians in Memphis

SUN STUDIO

706 Union Avenue

“Sam Phillips’ famous recording

studio saw some things. Not only did

Elvis get his start here, but greats like

Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison cut

timeless records there. It’s now a

museum you can tour.”

Insider tip: “Stand on the exact spot,

marked on the floor, where Elvis

recorded his 1954 debut single

‘That’s All Right (Mama)’ and wonder

what he was thinking as he laid down

the foundations of rock’n’roll.”

“This independent record shop with a

30-plus year history behind it stocks

and promotes music from local

artists of every genre. A very

laid-back store with friendly

knowledgeable staff, it’s a great visit

for any music fan keen to discover

the latest sounds from the city. Their

spin-off label is responsible for

releasing many standout records of

the ’90s Memphis indie scene.”

Insider tip: “Their book, Playing For

A Piece Of the Door: A History of

Garage and Frat Bands in Memphis

1960-75, is an essential read.”

NME.COM


AUSTIN BUTLER

Austin Butler is a

Hollywood rock star in

waiting. He tells NME

why playing the most

famous musician ever

will put him over the top

NME.COM


NME.COM


AUSTIN BUTLER

THE FIRST TIME AUSTIN

Butler took to the stage

as Elvis Presley was one

of the most nervewracking

moments of his

life. “I was walking out in

that famous black leather outfit and I

was terrified,” says Butler, who exudes

the kind of laidback California cool that

makes it hard to imagine he’s ever been

nervous. “I’d done so much work, but in

that moment I thought, ‘If this doesn’t

go well the whole film could fall apart

and my career’s over. It’s make or

break.’”

Hundreds of extras were waiting for

him to perform and excite them into a

screaming frenzy. The scene was a

recreation of Elvis’ 1968 special, his

‘comeback’ show after seven years

away from the live stage focusing on

making movies. It was one of the

defining moments of Elvis’ career, a

show that proved he was still the most

exciting performer on the planet.

Standing on the edge of set, looking out

at the bright lights and expectant

audience, Butler took a huge breath.

“Then I realised, this is a moment that

was make or break for Elvis too.

Everything was on the line for him.” If

this show didn’t go right for Elvis, his

career was over. “I remember this thing

he once said: ‘I have this fear that I’m

going to go out there and they’re going

to throw rocks at me.’ Then he’d go out

there and after one or two songs the

nerves went away.” Butler strutted

out and launched into his first song,

‘Heartbreak Hotel’. The audience

screaming in genuine thrill. “Elvis

was right.”

ROCK AND ROLE

Austin Butler has become well practised

at embracing terrifying experiences.

Playing Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s

epic biopic has launched Butler, 30, into

the spotlight, the star of one of the

biggest films of 2022. It’s a huge,

incredibly challenging role to play.

Luhrmann’s film follows Elvis from his

teenage years – as a newcomer who

shook up the music industry and

terrified the establishment – to a global

sensation who couldn’t quite

understand his own success, to a

troubled man who died at just 42. Butler

plays them all. It’s a role that’s

consumed the actor’s life for almost

three years, through an intense audition

process that saw him beat a crowded

field to the role of a lifetime, to a shoot

that put him toe-to-toe with Oscarwinner

Tom Hanks, who plays Colonel

Tom Parker, the man who discovered

Elvis and ruthlessly exploited him. Butler

calls becoming Presley his “obsession”.

“I cannot quantify the amount of hours I

spent on every aspect of this,” he says,

with an enormous smile.

When Baz Luhrmann, the Oscarnominated

director of Moulin Rouge!,

Romeo + Juliet and The Great Gatsby,

decided that his first film in almost 10

years would tell the story of Elvis

Presley’s incredible life, he began a hunt

for the perfect actor who could

encompass everything about Elvis. It

would need someone who could dazzle

audiences in the film’s astonishing

concert scenes, but also convey the

private pain and insecurity inside Elvis.

It wouldn’t be enough to simply look or

sound like him. He needed someone

who could become him. In early 2019,

Luhrmann cast his net wide, auditioning

Hollywood stars and newcomers alike.

At the time, Butler was fresh off a

supporting role in Quentin Tarantino’s

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood,

alongside Brad Pitt and Leonardo

DiCaprio. He was far from a newcomer

to acting. Butler had already had a long

and successful career as a child actor,

appearing in a large number of shows

across Nickelodeon and the Disney

Channel throughout the 2000s,

including Hannah Montana and Wizards

Of Waverly Place, then transitioning to

teen shows like The Carrie Diaries and

Arrow. He was now quietly and diligently

making the move into adult roles,

working to prove himself alongside the

best in the business. In 2018, he won

rave reviews for his Broadway debut in

The Iceman Cometh, opposite Denzel

Washington. His career was progressing

well but he knew that winning a role like

Elvis was a long shot.

BREAKING BAZ

“I sent in this tape of me singing

‘Unchained Melody’,” says Butler.

Where many actors might be tempted to

record a barnstorming show to

demonstrate they could match the

superstar performer, Butler recorded a

stripped back performance, just him

and a piano. Luhrmann had found his

guy. Not that Butler knew that yet. “Baz

doesn’t audition in a conventional way.

He doesn’t do many things in a

conventional way,” he laughs. “I flew to

New York and spoke to Baz for about

three hours. He asked me to come back

the next day and read the script with

him. So I came in and read some

scenes, then he asked me to come

back the next day and sing a

couple of songs. We did that day

after day for about five months…

NME.COM


AUSTIN BUTLER

“I cannot

quantify the

amount of

hours I spent

on every

aspect of this”

MOVIE STILL PHOTOS: DICK CLARK PRODUCTIONS/SILVERSCREEN PICTURES; ANIMAL KINGDOM

BUTLER’S

BEST BITS

Perfectly played

parts in mustwatch

movies

THE BLING RING

2011

This TV flick gave

Butler a juicy role as

Zack Garvey, based

on a leader of the

teenage looting

gang who targeted

LA celebs.

THE INTRUDERS

2015

In this creepy haunted

house movie, Butler

plays Nick, a local kid

who shows an interest

in a new neighbour

despite her increasingly

strange behaviour.

ONCE UPON

A TIME… IN

HOLLYWOOD

2019

Butler impresses as

Tex Watson, a member

of the Manson Family’s

murderous cult. A brief

but eye-catching turn.

THE DEAD DON’T DIE

2019

Butler again shows his

versatility playing Jack,

a traveller caught up in

the sudden zombie

invasion in Jim

Jarmusch’s quirky

comedy-horror movie.

NME.COM


AUSTIN BUTLER

“It was all

about ‘how

do I let my

soul meet

his soul?’”

and I didn’t know if I had the job yet.”

Those five months of work proved to be

invaluable when Butler finally learned he

had the part, in July 2019. “We already

had all those months of exploring this

together and asking all the questions

about what we thought was possible.

And I had all that time to ask myself the

question of whether it was possible.”

Butler threw himself into preparation,

but it was actually a journey that started

decades before. Butler grew up in

Anaheim, California, which is where he

was first introduced to Elvis. “My

grandmother loved Elvis,” he

remembers. “I remember she would

always have Elvis films on in the house.

Both my grandmothers loved Elvis, in

fact. The other one would have a lot of

his ’50s music playing, because that

was when she was in high school.” Elvis

was part of the soundtrack of his

earliest days, but he hadn’t given much

thought to the man behind the icon.

“I didn’t know much about his personal

life. I didn’t know much about how he

grew up. I wanted to find out everything

I could.”

BLOND AMBITION

Today, Butler looks very different from

Elvis. His hair, which was dyed a deep

brown and slicked back for filming, is

back to its natural blond, scruffily held in

place with sunglasses on top of his

head. He looks tanned and relaxed. But

in his voice there is still a trace of Elvis’

Mississippi twang, his vowels long and

his speaking pace unhurried. It’s a mark

of how deeply he embedded himself in

the process. Even when shooting was

paused during the pandemic, Butler

remained on location in Australia and

continued exploring who Elvis was,

watching every interview he could,

reading every book, and minutely

examining every track. Playing any

real-life person is tricky but there’s

WHO’S

WHO?

The supporting

cast in Elvis

LITTLE RICHARD

Alton Mason

Flamboyant rock’n’roll

pioneer who inspired Elvis

and was once referred to by

him as ‘the greatest’.

PRISCILLA

PRESLEY

Olivia DeJonge

Elvis’s wife from 1967 to

1973, and to this day a

protector of his legacy.

GLADYS &

VERNON PRESLEY

Helen Thomson,

Richard Roxburgh

Mom and Pops, who raised

Elvis on country music in

Tupelo, rural Mississippi.

BB KING

Kelvin Harrison Jr

An iconic blues musician

who met Elvis in Memphis

before he became famous.

something especially tough about Elvis.

He’s one of the most impersonated

celebrities in history. There are so many

Elvis impersonators in the world there’s

even a world record for the most Elvis

impersonators in one building (895, set

in 2014, since you ask). Butler needed to

learn how to be Elvis without looking like

he was just another impersonator.

“We’re talking about finding the

depth of a human being. I

had to break it into

pieces,” he says. “I would

spend hours of the day

just working on his voice.

That was finding how his

voice changed over years

– it changed a lot from

where the film starts,

in ’54/55, to ’77. His

spirituality changes. His

relationships. The way he

moves. I would have to

break each one of those

things down.” He dug and

dug, always looking to

unearth more secrets

about his subject. “I’d

hear a vocal mannerism

and become obsessed

with it. I’d listen to it 1,000

times and record it and

work until I sounded the

same.” He even learned

karate, because Elvis

learned karate. “It was all

about ‘how do I become

identical and not just a

copy. How do I let my

soul meet his soul?’”

Audiences will see the

results of Butler’s

immense commitment

when Elvis arrives in

cinemas on June 24. For

Butler, it will be the

culmination of three of the

most challenging and

rewarding years of his life.

“It just is truly the most

immense privilege,” says

Butler of the experience.

“Getting to collaborate

with Baz and Tom and

Olivia (DeJonge, who

plays Priscilla, Elvis’ wife)

and… be part of Elvis’

legacy, it’s so special.

Being at this place in my

career where I’m able to

work with other artists,

actors and directors that

I’ve admired for so long

and get to make stories

that really excite me, I just

truly feel blessed.”

And if he has any

nerves about his big moment, he

doesn’t show them. Because that’s

not what Elvis would do. He’d just

get out there and give the people a

show, get them all shook up.

AUSTIN BUTLER PHOTOSHOOT: PHOTOGRAPHER: ERIC RAY DAVIDSON, PRODUCERS: AVENUE B., STYLIST: JON TIETZ, GROOMER: JILLIAN HALOUSKA. MOVIE STILL PHOTOS: KANE SKENNAR, HUGH STEWART, COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES

NME.COM


ELVIS & ME

His influence stretches from music to fashion and beyond. Here are three

of our fave young artists explaining why Elvis is always on their mind

PHOTOS: FIONA GARDEN

MAT T

THOMSON

The Amazons singer and

big-time Elvis stan

As frontman of Reading-based rock

band The Amazons, Matt Thomson has

scored two UK top ten albums: 2017’s

self-titled debut and 2019’s ‘Future

Dust’. Here, he discusses his obsession

with Elvis Presley and the band’s

post-pandemic return to playing live – on

a huge arena tour with Royal Blood.

Why do you think we’re still so

fascinated by Elvis?

“I would say it’s similar to the Beatles:

because you can trace so much back to

him. His story is like a seed that rock

and roll, celebrity and all of those things

grew from. I would also say he’s similar

to Bob Dylan in the sense that you can

see a picture of him a million times but

still not know who he is. And I’d say

that’s increasing as we move further

away from him in time.”

Can you remember when you first

became aware of Elvis?

“I can definitely remember watching a

countdown of the top 50 rock videos

ever on a music channel. Number two

was ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana

and then ‘Suspicious Minds’ by Elvis

was number one. He’s wearing the white

suit and has five backing singers and

this insane band on stage with him. The

energy is just crazy, especially when he

keeps the refrain going at the end.”

How would you describe his

influence on your music and

sense of style?

“I think he encapsulates certain things

that we now see as staples of American

culture, like jeans and t-shirts. I see him

as the musical embodiment of that

time. He’s almost so zeitgeist-y that he

was harnessing the changes of that

time, so now he’s the person we look to

for that slicked-back hair look. The

further we get away from the ’50s, the

fewer touchpoints we have, so Elvis

has become the ultimate touchpoint

for that era.”


Could you write a song about Elvis?

“Yeah, I’d like to. I think it would

probably be a song celebrating the

burst of colour he brought into a black

and white world, that kind of epiphany

for millions of people. Or maybe the

song could be about how someone can

turn from a flesh and blood human

being like you and me into something

that transcends all of that, like Elvis.”

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Are you excited to see Baz

Luhrmann’s Elvis movie?

“I’ve devoured music biopics ever since

[Johnny Cash film] Walk the Line. And

from what I’ve seen, this one looks

pretty amazing. It’s telling the story that I

want to see told: Elvis’ origin story, that

lightning-in-a-bottle thing. I’m sure there

are lots of interesting stories to tell, but I

find that first era the most explosive and

interesting. And I’m looking forward to

seeing Austin Butler as Elvis. He was

amazing in Once Upon A Time In...

Hollywood.”

What are your band’s aims

for 2022?

“We’ve been writing a new record that’s

out in September, and it’s the anchor

that everything is based around. We’re

going on tour in October in support of

that album, and we’re playing festivals

leading up to it over the summer. We’re

just thankful, I think, and have a

newfound appreciation for everything.”

To what extent has the album been

shaped by the last couple of years?

“It was cathartic to make because I

wasn’t able to see someone I love for six

or seven months – it gave me some sense

of control. I use songs on the record as a

way of communicating with her.”

As a band, do you feel a bit like a

coiled spring?

“I feel like a rusty coiled spring that kind

of uncoiled too fast! We just went on

tour with Royal Blood, which was an

amazing and at times overwhelming

experience. But we had to relearn how

to tour [and get used to] the intense joy

of playing live, but also the lack of sleep,

bad diet and drink. There was a

moment where we were like,

‘We’re not drinking tonight, we

have to look after ourselves.’”

NME.COM


ELVIS & ME

WALLICE

LA’s alt-pop hero loves old

Hollywood glamour

Rising artist Wallice just released her

second EP, ‘90s American Superstar’, a

glistening set of songs that namechecks

classic movies including Clueless and

10 Things I Hate About You. Here, the

LA native talks about Elvis’s unique

dress sense and smashing her first ever

UK headline show.

What words would you use to

describe Elvis’ style?

“Gaudy and I guess quite camp, now

that we’ve seen what that looks like at

the Met Gala [in 2019, the annual event’s

theme was ​‘Camp: Notes on Fashion’].

His dress sense was very flashy and it

doesn’t seem like other male artists or

celebrities at that time took those risks. I

guess that’s why he really made a

splash in the fashion world.”

You’re an LA artist and draw a lot

from Hollywood in your songwriting.

Does Elvis feel like a classic

Hollywood figure to you?

“Yeah, he’s a larger-than-life celebrity, a

bit like Marilyn Monroe. I’m a big fan of

Lana Del Rey and she always talks a lot

about Elvis and Priscilla Presley in terms

of that old Hollywood glamour, so I think

I became even more aware of Elvis

through her.”

Which Elvis song would you like

to cover?

“I actually have a Spotify playlist of

songs I’d love to cover, and ‘Can’t Help

Falling In Love’ has been on there for a

while. I know there have been a few

covers of that song lately – it’s on a car

commercial at the moment I think. It’s

just such a beautiful song and one of

those classics that comes back

every so often.”

Are you excited to see Baz

Luhrmann’s Elvis movie?

“Oh yes, especially since I saw the

trailer at the movie theatre. I actually

grew up watching Austin Butler on

Nickelodeon. And I saw that when he

went to the Met Gala [in May], it was

almost like he was still in character as

Elvis. So I’m definitely excited to see

his performance.”

You’ve just played your first UK

headline show at The Lexington in

London. How did it go?

“It was the best show I’ve ever done. It

was only my third headline show ever,

but I’ve also done some support shows

in LA and New York. My second EP

[‘90s American Superstar’] just came

out, so it was the first time I’ve played

live where the fans knew all the music.

To see them singing along to the new

songs was amazing and I honestly

didn’t expect that. There were even

some fans who’d flown in from Spain to

be there!”

What has the reaction to the new

EP been like?

“Well, because my first EP [2021’s ‘Off

The Rails’] was very well received, I was

worried that this one might not be so

much. My manager tells me not to read

the YouTube comments but of course I

still do. So far, there’s only been one

bad comment and the rest are really

sweet. I just have to remember that at

the show everyone was singing those

songs back to me.”

What kind of DMs do you get

from fans?

“Often they’ll tell me how much a

particular song helped them get through

something in their life like a breakup. I

read every message but I can’t reply to

all of them because it would get

overwhelming. There’s just so much

content on Instagram.”

What are your main aims for the

rest of the year?

“I’d really like a support slot on another

artist’s European tour, which is

ambitious I guess! And I’m working on

another EP. My plan is to release three

EPs and then an album because I really

want to build a foundation first. I have so

many friends who’ve released albums

that are amazing bodies of work – like,

art pieces – and they don’t get the

recognition they deserve because

people don’t know their music is out

there. I think their music will be

found eventually, but for me, I want

to have that slow build before I put

out an album.”

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NME.COM


“He’s a larger than life

celebrity, a bit like

Marilyn Monroe”


ELVIS & ME

“He was so out there.

Not many people

have that confidence

and that finesse”


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MASTER

PEACE

Punk-rap rock star who

wrote his own song called

‘Heartbreak Hotel’

South London singer-rapper Master

Peace marked himself out as one to

watch with 2020’s ‘Love Bites’ EP, a

dazzling debut that drew cleverly from

early noughties indie. More recently, he

teamed up with The Streets for the

emotional banger ‘Wrong Answers

Only’. Here, he discusses his Britpopinspired

music and appreciation for

Elvis’s “out there” style.

How would you describe your

Elvis look today?

“It’s very out there and creative. It

definitely gives a bit of personality and I

like that about it; it’s something I’d wear

as Master Peace. You know, Elvis is very

much a sex symbol. I’ve seen videos of

him wearing looks like this back in the

day, but without the T-shirt, and I feel

like people would have been so excited

to see that. They would have looked at

him and thought: ‘Oh my God, I wanna

be like you.’

Why do you think Elvis is still

talked about today?

“Because he has so much charisma. I’m

not sure we have anyone like that in the

current generation of music [stars], but

maybe that’s because times were

different back then. Like, I’ve seen

videos of him walking into a room and

people are just fainting. And I ain’t seen

that happen to anyone else, do you

know what I mean?”

Why do you think he had that

effect on people?

“Again, I think it was because he was

very out there. A lot of people are

scared of what people think: they don’t

want to be ‘too much’ or show who they

really are. But when you see Elvis

dancing, you know he’s not like that at

all. Not many people have that

confidence and that finesse. It’s all very

well looking at something, but do you

believe it? With Elvis, you believe it and

you think: ‘Yeah, he’s the guy.’”

Which current artist would you like

to see collaborating with Elvis?

“I’d say Harry Styles because he’s kind

of got that Elvis vibe about him anyway.

He’s very fluid and picky: he wears what

he wants but it suits him. And I know I’m

cheating here, but I’d also say The

Weeknd because he’s just a superstar.”

Is there an Elvis song you’d

like to cover?

“‘Heartbreak Hotel’. I love the fact it’s

very slow and intimate. And I love the

alliteration of the title and also that

juxtaposition. A hotel is somewhere I

think of as very relaxing – like, you go

there to chill at the spa. But heartbreak

is obviously not like that at all, so it’s a

very interesting title. I actually wrote my

own song called ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ a

few years back.”

What are your plans for this year?

“Well, it’s funny because people know

who Master Peace is now, but they

haven’t seen all of me. I’ve got an

EP coming and then an album. I’m

really hunkering down on who I am

as an artist.”

What’s the overall vibe of the EP?

“Britpop. It’s got a very early 2000s

Gorillaz kind of vibe, but with elements

of Oasis, Arctic Monkeys and Bloc Party.

No one’s really doing that sound

anymore and I want to bring it back

because it means a lot to me. I’ve always

prided myself on singing in my own

accent when a lot of other artists sing in

an American accent. When you hear the

EP, you’re gonna be like: ‘Yeah, he’s a

straight up indie-Britpop kind of artist.’”

How will you know when the

EP is finished?

“You know, sometimes I feel like you

can never beat the first take [of a vocal].

It’s good to hear the little breaths and

fuck-ups rather than doing 100 takes

and trying to make it perfect. Like, I love

it when you can hear a door slamming

or someone swearing in the

background. There’s a song on the EP

that’s almost like gibberish: even I can’t

make out what I’m saying in places. But

it’s one of my favourite songs I’ve ever

made because it’s just so free.”

And how far along with the

album are you?

“I’d say about 20 per cent. I’ve got one

song I’m really confident about. We’ve

made a few other songs but I feel like

they’re not really hitting the way the first

one hits. So right now it’s about taking

that first song and using it as a

signpost for where I want to go with

the rest of the album. I’ve gotta say,

I’m pretty excited about it.”

NME.COM


FASHION

Looking for a rock’n’roll

makeover? Elvis’ personal tailor,

Lanskys of Memphis, have

some must-read style hints

FROM ALEX TURNER’S GREASEDback

hair to the louche cool of Harry

Styles, Elvis’ impact on fashion is

undeniable. He was first styled in the

1950s by Bernard Lansky, owner of

Lansky Bros – the Beale Street

clothier to Johnny Cash, BB King and

Jerry Lee Lewis – and it was a close

creative relationship that continued

for three decades. Bernard’s son, Hal,

now carries the torch for the Lanskys

(their shop is currently located in

Memphis’ Peabody Hotel), so we got

him to talk us through some of Elvis’

most memorable looks (and offer tips

on how to nail each outfit).

THE BOUNDARY-

BREAKING ROCKER

1950s

“Elvis looked his best when he was

young, innocent and a rising star. He

loved black and pink colour

combinations. At that time, men didn’t

wear pink, and we take credit for

putting him in that colour. One of the

most famous examples of that is

when Elvis performed ‘Hound Dog’

on The Milton Berle Show

in a

bubble-gum jacket.”

HOW TO PULL IT OFF: “Add some

black and white spectator shoes.

You’ll be looking sharp.”


THE HOLLYWOOD

HEARTTHROB

1957

“In the 1950s, Elvis wore a lot of

tapered pants which were wider at the

top and went down to a peg; his shirts

had camp collars. One of his iconic

looks was the Hollywood Coat that he

wore in the movie Jailhouse Rock,

striped with a black velvet collar.”

HOW TO PULL IT OFF: “You gotta be

in your best shape, because those

clothes are all about tight fits.”

STYLE

SUCCESSORS

Modern mavericks who

borrow from Elvis

THE DAPPER MOD

1960s

“In his ’60s phase, Elvis wore a lot of

Continental Suits – with skinnier lapels,

narrower ties. He looked real trim and

good-looking. In the late ’60s, he

mainly sported looks that came out of

Carnaby Street in London: loosesleeved

shirts with high collars,

bell-bottom pants and shirts with

beautiful paisley patterns.”

HOW TO PULL IT OFF: “A lot of people

keep their shirts hanging out which

looks terrible. If Elvis was here today,

he would never wear his shirt tail out, it

would always be tucked in!”

ALEX TURNER

The quiff? The leather

jackets? The early 2010s

rockabilly reinvention?

100 per cent Presley.

THE CAPED CRUSADER

1976

“One of my favourite photos of Elvis

from the ‘70s is where he’s wearing one

of our leather coats with a cape on it,

and he stopped at a traffic accident to

see if he could help the victim. We

introduced Elvis to caped shirts early

on – we called them our Batman shirts.”

HOW TO PULL IT OFF: “Keep the

colour combinations plain so you

don’t end up looking like his Vegas

years style!”

THE LEATHER LOTHARIO

1968

“We did a lot of leather for Elvis.

We didn’t actually do his famous ’68

Comeback Special leather suit,

which was by a costumier, but he

still looked sensational in it!”

HOW TO PULL IT OFF: “It’s a

head-to-toe look. You’ve got to have

all the details perfect: from the hair

and eyebrows to your belt matching

your shoes.”

PHOTOS: GETTY; SCREENPROD/ PHOTONONSTOP/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO; PICTURELUX/THE HOLLYWOOD ARCHIVE/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

HARRY STYLES

Hazza’s hot-pink jumpsuits

were only possible because

Elvis spearheaded gender-

fluidity before it was a thing.

BRUNO MARS

Remember Mars’ gold jacket

at the Grammys in 2012?

Well, our man did it all the

way back in 1957, blinging up

for the cover of his album

50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t

be Wrong.

NME.COM


WHAT’S NEXT

A little more

conversation...

Can’t get enough Elvis after the movie? Here are

a few Presley-aligned books, films, podcasts,

albums and events to curl a lip along to. Uh-huh

THE ALBUMS

PET SHOP BOYS

‘Introspective’ (1988)

After a post-punk decade in

which Elvis was largely

considered a throwback, Pet

Shop Boys rehabilitated his

memory with their electropop

rampage through ‘Always On My

Mind’, from their remix-centric

third album.

SHAPING

ELVIS

Recorded in

Elvis’s hometown of

Tupelo, Mississippi,

this series sees

producer Josh Ward

speak to people who

knew Elvis before he

was famous in order

to get to the crux of

the man who would,

eventually, change

the world.

NICK CAVE

AND THE BAD SEEDS

‘Let Love In’ (1994)

Nick Cave’s Devil Presley

persona came of age here with

crooner noir melodies such as

‘Nobody’s Baby Now’, ‘Red Right

Hand’ and ‘Do You Love Me?’

sounding like Elvis had turned

the wrong way out of limbo.

THE PODCASTS

ELVIS HAS LEFT

THE MOVIES

Focussing on

Presley’s cinematic

legacy, episode by

episode, two fans

named Matt and

Morgan dissect each

of Elvis’ 31 feature

films, illuminating

the wider cultural

shifts of the ’50s

and ’60s going on

around them.

RICHARD HAWLEY

‘Standing At The Sky’s Edge’

(2012)

Sheffield’s own king of rock’n’roll

– and the man who inducted

Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner into

the ways of the curled lip and

leopard skin collar – ended up

making songs about Yorkshire

feel like dusky canyon anthems.

WE DIDN’T START

THE FIRE

Katie Puckrick and

Tom Fordyce work

through the

historical lyrics of

Billy Joel’s ‘We

Didn’t Start The

Fire’, dissecting the

people and events

therein. Across two

episodes, they

tackle the biggest

Presley myths.

DANZIG

‘Danzig Sings Elvis’ (2020)

Few have tackled the Presley

canon with such glower as metal

icon Glenn Danzig. No speed

metal ‘Jailhouse Rock’, but a

cool selection of Elvis deep cuts

(‘Is It So Strange’, ‘Lonely Boy

Blue’, ‘Pocket Full Of Rainbows’)

given no little intensity.

OLD TIME

ROCK-N-ROLL

Simply for the

music. Tune in to

hear host Lee

Douglas spin

selections from his

120,000-song

collection of golden

oldies – it’s the ideal

place to hear Elvis in

the context in which

his early fans would

have first found him.

PHOTOS: HUGH STEWART / COURTESY OF WARNER BROS PICTURES; ALAMY STOCK PHOTO; GETTY IMAGES

NME.COM


THE EVENTS

ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS

Every Monday

The Stag’s Head,

Hoxton, London

Hoxton’s premiere jive and

rock’n’roll dance classes give

you the chance to jitterbug your

way back to Elvis’s golden era.

THIS IS SPINAL TAP

(1984)

On tour in America, the Tap

stop off at Graceland to pay

their respects at Elvis’ grave

to perform a “barbershop

raga” rendition of

‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and get

“too much fucking

perspective”.

THE FILMS

JAILHOUSE ROCK

(1957)

The first leg of any selfrespecting

Elvis movie

marathon, and arguably his

most iconic screen

appearance. Probably the

reason that so many death

row inmates get marriage

proposals, and should come

with a public health warning

about hypnotic hips.

ELVIS WEEK 2022

August 9-17

Graceland Estate, Memphis

This year’s Elvis Week features

tribute concerts, conversations

with his backing musicians, a

candlelit vigil and a

performance of Elvis Presley In

Concert, a live band backing

Elvis on the big screen.

WILD AT HEART

(1990)

Nicolas Cage is such an Elvis

fanatic that he married Lisa

Marie and has referenced

him in many of his movies.

His most memorable

homage was in David

Lynch’s Wild At Heart,

soundtracked by Chris

Isaak’s Elvis-inspired

classic ‘Wicked Game’.

ELVIS PRESLEY:

THE SEARCHER

(2018)

HBO’s three-hour two-parter

can lay claim to being the

ultimate Elvis documentary,

following his career with

appearances from friends,

family and devotees to

present him as an artist

rather than a phenomenon.

MÅNESKIN

August 26-28

Reading + Leeds Festivals

There’s no guarantee that

Måneskin will play ‘If I Can

Dream’ – their cover from the

Elvis soundtrack – at this riteof-passage

weekender, but

even if not it’s bound to

be a blast.

ELVIS: THE LEGEND

By Gillian G Gaar

Delving into the Graceland

archives for over 150

photographs and personal

artefacts, this authorised,

illustrated biography marking

the 40th anniversary of Elvis’

death is packed with insight

and memorabilia: letters,

publicity material and

copious bling.

THE BOOKS

LAST TRAIN TO

MEMPHIS/CARELESS

LOVE

By Peter Guralnick

Across two major

biographies, Guralnick

produced the definitive

dive into the man behind

the myths. “Elvis steps

from the page,” Bob Dylan

said of the books. “You

can feel him breathe.”

FOLLOW THAT

DREAM

2023, Date TBC

Location TBC

No mere Presley convention

overflowing with sideburns and

sequinned beer bellies, Follow

That Dream is the UK’s only Elvis

Tribute Artist championship.

ELVIS AND ME

By Priscilla Beaulieu

Presley

As ‘insider’ as you can get,

Priscilla Presley’s 1985

account of her marriage to

Elvis pulls no punches in

detailing his drug-taking,

womanising, occult

fascinations, divorce and

descent. A TV movie of the

book emerged in 1988.

HOW THE BEATLES

DESTROYED

ROCK ’N’ ROLL

By Elijah Wald

Following American

pop from the earliest

recordings through to the

impact of the Fabs, Wald

places Elvis in cultural

and historical context, not

just as a hip-shaking

blast from nowhere.

NME.COM


Baz Luhrmann

Elvis director,

maker of epic films

THE SONG

THAT CHANGED

MY LIFE

DAVID BOWIE

‘Changes’

“From the moment I first

heard this song, I was a

huge Bowie fan. I

eventually worked with

him [on the Moulin

Rouge! soundtrack] and

then towards the end of

his life, he became a very

good friend. He used to

come round and we’d

walk the dogs. We were

talking about going to

Berlin at one point to do

something together. I

must have been so

stupid, why didn’t I just

say yes?”

THE SONG I

CAN NO LONGER

LISTEN TO

PRINCE

‘Sign O’ The Times’

“It’s a great song, but

when I was younger I

used it in a show that was

an absolute catastrophe.

Every time I hear it now, it

takes me back to that.”

THE SONG I WISH

I’D WRITTEN

HARRY STYLES

‘Watermelon Sugar’

“I remember saying to

him: ‘“Watermelon Sugar”

is a classic. People are

going to be playing it

every summer.’ I don’t

know if Harry saw the

song like that, but it’s

hard to be objective when

it’s your own song.”

THE SONG

THAT REMINDS

ME OF HOME

JOHN FARNHAM

‘You’re the Voice’

“I still go clubbing

because I intend to grow

old disgracefully: it’s kind

of my motto. I was in a

nightclub recently and all

the kids were singing

along to this.”

THE FIRST GIG

I WENT TO

THE POLICE

Sydney, 1980

“I thought: ‘Wow, this is

what it means to see a

live show!’ It was just

fantastic. Some years

later I saw Sting at his

birthday party and I told

him it was the first show

I’d ever been to.”

THE SONG I

CAN’T GET OUT

OF MY HEAD

DOJA CAT

‘Vegas’

“She made this song for

the Elvis soundtrack and

it’s already blowing up.

I’ve worked with

Madonna and Beyoncé

and I see something

similar in Doja Cat: she’s

just a really, really hard

worker. And when you

see her on stage, my god

she’s a good dancer.”

THE SONG THAT

MAKES ME WANT

TO DANCE

MADONNA

‘Like A Virgin’

“I think of Madonna like

Marlene Dietrich: like

Marlene, nothing will stop

her from being a

provocative artist. I think

the younger generation is

rediscovering her.”

The wisdom of

the NME archives

THIS WEEK

ELVIS PRESLEY

March 4, 1960

“I’ve always believed

that there’s room for

everyone in show

business – and if

other people can

make it, then good

luck to them”

PHOTOS: GETTY, TRENT MITCHELL

NME.COM

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