Elvis Presley’s ex-wife Priscilla appeared on “Piers Morgan Uncensored” on Tuesday to discuss the iconic singer’s legacy.
Asked how Elvis would fare in “this weird cancel culture,” the 77-year-old businesswoman said Elvis was “not prejudiced in any way” and “not racist in any way.”
“He’s never been a racist. Elvis had friends, Black friends, friends from all over,” she said. “He loved their music. He loved their style. He loved being around, you know, Black musicians.”
Priscilla cited his friendships with two Black musicians, Fats Domino and Sammy Davis Jr., who she said would “always come into the dressing room” when Elvis performed in Las Vegas.
“He loved, loved being around Blacks and being around anyone actually,” she said.
Priscilla also praised Baz Luhrmann’s new biopic “Elvis,” which stars Austin Butler as the so-called “King of Rock and Roll” and Olivia DeJonge as Priscilla herself. (The famous couple tied the knot in 1967 after seven years of dating. He was 31 and she was 21. She has said their marriage ended in 1972 due to infidelity on both sides.)
Largely due to a wider understanding of cultural appropriation, Elvis’ legacy has come under scrutiny during the film’s promotional cycle.
Luhrmann shows how Elvis repackaged historically Black genres and performances to become a star. Indeed, several of Elvis’ early hits were covers of songs by Black artists, like Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s blues classic “That’s All Right.”
Doja Cat, who was enlisted to create the original song “Vegas” for the film’s soundtrack, decided to honor the original version of “Hound Dog” performed by Big Mama Thornton rather than Elvis’ version.
Elvis has also been criticized by Black artists in the past. In 2021, the Grammy-winning musician and producer Quincy Jones said he “wouldn’t work with him.”
“He was a racist mother — I’m going to shut up now,” Jones told The Hollywood Reporter.
Ray Charles was similarly critical of Elvis during a sit-down interview with NBC’s Bob Costas in 1994.
“To say that Elvis was so great and so outstanding, like he’s the king… the king of what?” Charles said. “He was doing our kind of music. So what the hell am I supposed to get so excited about?”