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News createt: 08-11-2010 06:00:00

Priscilla Talks

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First there was Viva Elvis: the Cirque du Soleil show. Now fans of The King can experience Viva Elvis: The Album. In a QMI Agency exclusive, the legendary rocker's ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, sat down in a chic Beverly Hills hotel to talk about the new album and her life with Elvis, who died in 1977 at the age of 42. The 65-year-old widow also touched on the world of music and her admiration for the Cirque du Soleil. Earlier this year, Priscilla Presley was closely involved in the planning of the Cirque's Viva Elvis show.

What do you think about the musical arrangement of Viva Elvis?

The album is inspired by the Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas. The Cirque du Soleil is famous for taking risks and it's a great partnership because Elvis is known as someone who also liked risks. So if you have to take a risk, this is the album to make. There's no question that many people will like the album and I hope that the young generation will like it. It's possible that some purists will be disappointed, but the point of the album is to keep Elvis up to date, contemporary. This album is playful, pleasant. He would have been 75 years old this year; the Cirque du Soleil celebrates his music, his films, his home life.

What is your favourite song and why?

On the album? I love Suspicious Minds. Many of my personal memories of Elvis are connected to this song. He knew it would be a success.

You have previously said that Elvis flew into a terrible rage when he heard a version of Suspicious Minds that he believed had been altered by (then-manager) Colonel Parker. What do you believe he would think about the arrangements on Viva Elvis?

First, I have to say that Elvis was a very humble man and that he would have been honoured to be immortalized in a show on the Vegas strip. It was one of his favourite spots. What counts is the celebration of Elvis and the Cirque du Soleil's interpretation. As for Suspicious Minds, Elvis had a vision in his mind for this song, and he didn't appreciate someone else interpreting it differently.

The songs on the album are among the ones in the Cirque show. Did you have any say in that?

I had no part in it. It's the Cirque.

Were there any musical arrangements that you didn't like or did you insist that certain Elvis songs not be remastered?

The musical arrangements were done by Sony and the songs were chosen by the Cirque. I didn't make any demands. The music remains the same, it's just an update, a way of making it more contemporary.

Elvis recorded more than 800 songs but the Vegas show, and the album, don't include several hits like That's All Right, (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear, If I Can Dream and Such a Night. Why?

It's a celebration of Elvis, not a celebration of his hits. The Cirque du Soleil chose songs from the "young" Elvis. And they also wanted the songs to represent his movies.

For the show, you collaborated with the Cirque du Soleil. Why did you choose them? How was the experience?

They like taking risks just Elvis, they are internationally known, they have 20 shows, seven in Vegas with Viva Elvis, and they're very successful; so it's a perfect match. Elvis changed the culture of music and they (the Cirque) are in the process of changing the culture of entertainment.

Your contract with the Cirque du Soleil includes several future projects including a show in Europe and Asia. Is this finalized and if so, what sort of shows are you doing?

It will depend on the exact plans. But I love that other countries, where Elvis is only known from his recordings and videos, get to experience this kind of thing. People want the complete Elvis experience, the touch, the feel. These projects will be well thought out and planned.

Elvis died 33 years ago. What do you miss most about him?

I miss his smile, his sense of humour, his presence. He was a really unique person.

Elvis would have been 75 years old this year. If he was still alive, what do you think his musical style would have been and who would he have looked up to?

He believed that there was a place for every style. He used to love songs that had a history. I can't imagine Elvis living without music. He loved the purity of artists who could touch the soul like Tom Jones, Dean Martin; artists who sang from the heart, the soul. He would definitely have liked many of today's artists, but the music industry is going in a different direction than where he was coming from.