Elvis Presley 'would have loved' new biopic film says Tom Jones
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Elvis Presley was brought back to life this year on the big screen in Elvis. The movie’s visionary director, Baz Luhrmann, retold the life and times of the King of Rock and Roll with American actor Austin Butler in the star’s Blue Suede Shoes. But while Austin was researching Elvis and his musical origins, he found himself stunned by one song in particular.
The track had a strong connection to Elvis’ childhood. The star grew up a Christian in Mississippi, where attending church was a ritual he and his family followed every week.
To really get into the head of the King of Rock and Roll, Austin recreated these scenarios and also began listening to some of the religious music that he recorded in his later life.
Speaking in a new interview, Austin spoke candidly about which of his songs stunned him the most.
He explained: “Throughout his career, Elvis would go back to spiritual music as his solace so there’s a number of different gospel songs that I would return to.”
Elvis adored gospel music, and passionately studied and practised religion and spirituality. In the final years of his life, he would pore over philosophy books for hours and would discuss deep religious lore with his family members.
Knowing this, when Austin heard Elvis’ version of (There’ll Be) Peace in the Valley (For Me), he was blown away.
He said: “When we went down to Nashville and recorded all the gospel numbers for the film, getting to be in these small churches listening to gospel being sung for eight hours straight.”
He admitted: “It sent chills down my spine and I couldn’t help but move.”
Austin Butler recalls preparing for Elvis biopic
Although Austin found nostalgia in the song, Peace in the Valley was actually a powerful piece of history for Elvis.
The singer played the track during his third and final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on January 6, 1957. He reportedly performed the Christian song to 54.6 million viewers.
He closed the show by dedicating the song to the 250,000 refugees fleeing Hungary after the Soviet Union invasion going on at the time.
His appeal to the viewers of The Ed Sullivan Show resulted in contributions of $6 million towards the cause.
The connection Austin built with Elvis throughout filming was so powerful that, after he had finished on the biopic, Austin had to do some readjusting in his life.
He later confessed that he had to “rediscover” himself after embodying the King for almost two years.
Austin confessed: “It was really a solid couple months before I really felt some semblance of normal afterward. I’d never done something in the way where I just put my life aside.”
He went on to admit: “I didn’t see my family. I didn’t see my friends. I didn’t see anybody for the two years that I was filming the movie [Elvis] or working on it. You don’t know what to do with yourself when you finish. It’s really strange.”
(There’ll Be) Peace in the Valley (For Me) was one of hundreds of gospel songs Elvis sang throughout his career.
He also recorded and released Run On, You’ll Never Walk Alone, Crying in the Chapel, and How Great Thou Art to name just a few.
How Great Thou Art became the title track of Elvis’ 1967 gospel album, and even secured him his first Grammy Award. A live version of the track later earned him another Grammy Award in 1974.
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