Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis hasn’t yet hit UK screens, but already it’s yielding treasures for fans of the King. Recently the film’s star Austin Butler made a post-production visit to Graceland, and in a unambiguous gesture of approval of the actor donning the blue suede shoes, Elvis’ granddaughter Riley Keogh invited Butler to the house play Presley’s own iconic Gibson J-200.
Few people besides Elvis are known to have played the guitar. Paul McCartney once got to tune it, according to Keogh, who described Butler’s visit as “a special and overwhelming experience”. Elvis acquired the J-200 in 1956; allegedly Elvis’ Manager Tom “The Colonel” Parker forbade artist endorsements, so the guitar was bought up front. The same guitar that Elvis played on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1957, it was later put in for repair while Elvis served in the US Army, with his name later inlaid into the fretboard in time for him to be released from duty in 1960.
“One of many sweet things that happened while we were there, Austin played my grandfather’s guitar in the house,” wrote Keogh in an Instagram post. “This guitar hasn’t been played by many people. I know it was tuned by Paul McCartney once, but as far as people sitting down and playing it Austin Butler is one of very few people aside from my grandfather.”
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Austin Butler has shot to fame since being cast as Elvis. His previous major film credit was for the role of Manson Family member Tex Watson in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and he is set to appear in the upcoming sequel to Dune, slated to hit cinemas in 2023. Elvis has so far received mixed reviews, with many praising Butler while criticising Luhrmann’s style. Slant called the film an “unruly biopic” that “keeps the King at a distance,” while Collider said “Austin Butler can’t save this take on the King of rock and roll.”
Watch a trailer for the film below:
Elvis is in cinemas now in the US, set for release in the UK on June 24th.