Having seen her mother Lisa Marie Presley struggle to follow in Elvis’s blue suede-clad footsteps, it’s no surprise the King’s granddaughter Riley Keough aspired to be anything but a rock star growing up. Yet aged 33, she now stars as a singer in the eagerly-anticipated rock’n’roll TV series Daisy Jones & The Six, which debuts on Friday based on the bestselling novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
With a song from the series, Regret Me, already boasting more than 2.5 million Spotify plays and a cast album imminent, Keough is poised to become an accidental rock star – just like Daisy, the hard-living heroine of the book and drama.
“I didn’t identify with Daisy’s desire to sing and write songs, because that’s something I had never done,” says Keough, who for two years had the dubious distinction of having pop icon Michael Jackson as her step-father.
“What I connected with was Daisy’s artistry and how she felt, not being taken seriously as a young woman.”
Keough, whose previous films include Mad Max: Fury Road, and Logan Lucky, is finally being taken seriously as an actress and not merely as a “nepo baby” (the child of a famous person who has ostensibly benefited from family connections rather than talent).
Yet it is a bittersweet moment for the showbusiness legend’s scion, who plays hard-rocking Daisy, addicted to pills and love, in the musical drama inspired by Seventies supergroup Fleetwood Mac.
Just when Keough should be celebrating her star-making role, she is mourning the sudden death of her mother Lisa Marie, 54, last month and is caught in a battle over Elvis’s millions.
Keough barely had time to grieve before her grandmother – Elvis’s widow Priscilla Presley, 77 – challenged Lisa Marie’s will that bequeathed Elvis’s £420million estate, including his lucrative back catalogue and the Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, to Keough and her half-sisters, twins Finley and Harper, 14.
A bitter courtroom war is now waging as Keough fights for custody of her sisters and control of Elvis’s fortune.
She will take little comfort knowing this tangled web of feuding families, rock’n’roll millions, ambition, passion, betrayal and heartache echoes the dramas at the heart of Daisy Jones & The Six.
The 10-episode series for Amazon Prime follows the drug-addled rise of troubled flower child Daisy, who joins rock band The Six and becomes a musical phenomenon, topping the record charts before they inevitably implode.
“I was put on this Earth to be Daisy,” she implored the show’s producers at auditions.
Like her co-stars, including British actor Sam Claflin, 36, who plays The Six frontman Billy Dunne, and British beauty Suki Waterhouse, 31, who portrays keyboardist Karen Sirko, Keough had little musical experience before the series.
“I sounded so bad that I started crying,” Keough recalls of an early singing audition for the role. Her first attempt at a duet with Claflin was equally disastrous.
“It was this moment of like, ‘Oh, we’re both f****** bad,” laughs Keough. Claflin was relieved: “Oh, phew! It’s not just me… we’re both terrible.”
Series producer Scott Neustadter admits: “It was the train wreck of all train wrecks.”
Undeterred, the cast spent 18 months learning to become musicians in “band camp”. “It’s pretty amazing,” says Keough. “I think we really came from not being able to play anything on a guitar or sing really, to having a record going out”.
Waterhouse embraced the challenge: “I was incredibly into the idea of having three hours of piano lessons every single day.” Claflin, a veteran of three Hunger Games movies, was “petrified” and hungry through much of the rehearsals.
“It was not only playing the guitar but singing whilst I’m playing the guitar; while also trying to move like I know what I’m doing, and I’ve been doing this my entire life; whilst also singing in an American accent; whilst also running on no food because I was trying to lose weight for the part.”
The series’ music supervisor, Frankie Pine, had the fictional band members rehearse, eat, drink, laugh and argue together, saying: “I was really trying to create this camaraderie that a true rock ’n’ roll band has.”
At least 25 original songs for the series were written by US musician Blake Mills in collaboration with stars including Phoebe Bridgers and Marcus Mumford. An album, Aurora, will be released on Friday.
Novelist Taylor Jenkins Reid found the inspiration for her story watching Fleetwood Mac on television 26 years ago, at the age of 13.
Singer Stevie Nicks, all wild hair and flowing boho dresses, shared the stage with
guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and, as Nicks’ song reached a crescendo, a look of wonder spread across Buckingham’s face.
Jenkins Reid recalls: “I thought, ‘Oh, they’re in love with each other’… It just seemed obvious… He was clearly madly in love with her.
And the way she smiled back at him, the way she seemed so comfortable in his gaze, she must love him too.” But the illusion was shattered when Jenkins Reid’s mother explained the duo had dated, but broken up.
Jenkins Reid says: “I understood that sometimes looking like you’re in love – or hate – are things you ramp up a bit to make a good show.”
Further inspired by Fleetwood Mac’s real-life debauchery, Jenkins Reid’s 2019 novel sold more than a million copies and has been translated into 30 languages.
Actress Reese Witherspoon bought the rights to the novel for her production company before it was even published, and quickly won a green light from Amazon.
While she published her first book in 2013, Jenkins Reid has been one of the authors who have benefited from so-called “Book-Tok” – the areas of Tik-Tok devoted to reading recommendations – in recent years.
Her 2017 novel, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, finally hit the bestsellers list in 2021 as a result of short videos on the social
media platform. Posts tagged with its title quickly racked up 130 million views.
Subsequent novels Daisy Jones and Malibu Rising, published in 2019 and 2021 respectively, also benefited and suddenly Jenkins Reid was a mega-seller.
Both were snapped up for adaptations. But filming Daisy Jones during the pandemic proved a nightmare.
Large crowd scenes in Seventies period dress, packed clubs and booze-and-drug-drenched bacchanalia were repeatedly postponed due to Covid.
In addition to ubiquitous shag carpets and vintage cars, the principal characters alone required 1,500 wardrobe changes before filming was half-way through. Some nights demanded more than 250 different outfits.
While the drama unfurls on screen, Keough is centre stage in her own rock’n’roll battle over Elvis’s fortune.
Priscilla Presley is contesting “the authenticity and validity” of a 2016 addendum to Lisa Marie’s will which replaced Priscilla as a trustee of the estate with Keough.
Keough has now petitioned a court for partial custody of her twin sisters.
“Riley wants to be in control of the estate’s money, and this is a way to do it,” a source told Us Weekly magazine. Both the twins’ father, musician Michael Lockwood, and Priscilla are opposing Keough’s bid.
She has come a long way from the five-year-old whose parents divorced and told her father, musician Danny Keough: “I want to grow up to be poor like you!”
She explains: “I grew up very privileged with my mother, but my dad didn’t live like that… he lived in cabins and trailer parks.”
While she fights for Elvis’s fortune, Keough has no plans to emulate the King’s
“I don’t know if there is continuing my grandfather’s legacy,” she says.
“It’s its own sort of thing to me… I’m not a musician – or I am now, I guess.”
Novelist Jenkins Reid is happy at how her vision has been brought to life on screen.
“When I think of Daisy now, I see Riley’s face,” she says. “When I think of Billy, I think of Sam.”
When Daisy Jones viewers see Keough, will they think of Elvis?
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