How Elvis’ granddaughter Riley Keough finally found her voice

You’d think it’s the most natural thing in the world — that Elvis Presley’s granddaughter should be able to hold a tune.

But for Riley Keough, daughter of the late Lisa Marie Presley, it wasn’t a given.

“Sometimes when you’re an actor and you really want to do something, you tell them, ‘Yes, I can do that,'” Keough said.

She didn’t see herself as a singer. Had never belted out a song – didn’t even know what ‘belt’ meant – but here she was, auditioning for the lead in a TV series based on a hugely popular book loosely written by Fleetwood Mac and the backstage Drama behind their classic was inspired 1977 album rumours. Think sex, lots of drugs, and 1970s California rock.

Riley Keough and Sam Claflin in Daisy Jones & the Six.

Riley Keough and Sam Claflin in Daisy Jones & the Six.Credit:Amazon Studios

But she can sing and commands the stage Daisy Jones and the Sixthe 10-episode series based on Taylor Jenkins Reid’s best-selling 2019 novel, which was bought by Reese Witherspoon’s production company before it even hit shelves.

The story takes place as the oral tradition of a fictional band – with each member remembering for the first time their rapid rise to fame and turbulent breakup in 1977. Keough plays Daisy, while Sam Claflin plays Billy Dunne – who is Lindsey Buckingham – to Keough’s Stevie Nicks, if you will.

As Jenkins Reid said The guard On the book’s release: “I wanted to write about the conflict between characters who have this amazing ability to create things together, but personal relationships that are far more strained. We’ve seen many examples of this in rock, the most obvious being Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Fleetwood Mac is a band and a soap opera.”

The first week was pretty tough… It took us a minute to get used to hearing the whole band together and then figuring out the vocals.

Riley Keough

She’s not wrong. Fleetwood Mac weren’t just notorious for their romantic travails—like Nicks and Buckingham, the band’s bassist John McVie and keyboardist/vocalist Christine McVie split during the making of rumours. Their drug use during the recording of this album was also legendary, with Mick Fleetwood admitting in his memoir that they almost thanked their drug dealer in the album notes. They didn’t end up doing it because the dealer was murdered.

Daisy Jones and the Six captures the stormy dynamics of the band. Keough and Claflin are electrifying on screen and today, as they sit together doing interviews from Los Angeles, that simple chemistry is evident. They gently tease and poke each other for answers. Claflin, who co-starred The hunger GamesShe’s talkative, while Keough is kind but understandably a little more reserved following her mother’s death in January.

Claflin and Keough on stage in Daisy Jones & the Six. The pair rehearsed over Zoom for more than a year before entering a recording studio.

Claflin and Keough on stage in Daisy Jones & the Six. The pair rehearsed over Zoom for more than a year before entering a recording studio.

“It’s complex,” Claflin says of their characters’ relationship. “It’s a real roller coaster ride. Sometimes they push each other to their limits. They are each other’s counterparts in a way that they are so alike. And that’s just as well. But it’s also a bad thing.”

Daisy and Billy meet in Los Angeles as they try to find their place in a low-support city. Daisy has real talent as a singer-songwriter but lacks confidence, and is attracted and repelled by a music scene that engulfs young women.

“She’s looking for a place to belong, which I think most people do,” says Keough, who broke through in 2015 Mad Max: Fury Road. “And she finds writing to be a medicine for her heartbreak and loneliness. And she’s really excited about the prospect of joining this band and living this life, and Billy is against it. She pushes his buttons and from that very first meeting, it’s just a little bit explosive in terms of their relationship.”

Early on, Daisy is described as a “powder keg” by Billy, and that word could be applied to Keough’s performance. She’s mesmerizing as Daisy — tough, vulnerable, and incredibly charismatic — not just stunt-casting with a famous family. You’re on her side from the start.

Claflin, on the other hand, has the more difficult path to navigate. Billy is a classic front man – attractive but concerned – who balances wife and family with the temptations of fame. But he’s a bit of an idiot, isn’t he?

Fleetwood Mac in 1977 while recording their album Rumors.

Fleetwood Mac in 1977 while recording their album Rumors.

“I don’t think so,” says Claflin, laughing. “I’ve definitely heard that from a lot of people. But I don’t think he’s misunderstood, he’s just very human. He makes a few mistakes, but they’re all justifiable in the context of what he’s going through and the multitude of other things he’s trying to juggle.

“And I really related to that aspect of his life – juggling family life and creative life is really, really hard.

“And he’s not just the leader of a band, he’s responsible for everything. He’s putting more pressure on himself than he needs to, and sure enough, when he opened it up and said, “Guys, do you have any thoughts?” Maybe that takes some pressure off. But he’s a perfectionist…”

Keough: Is that a nice way to say control freak?

Claflin: “He’s obsessive, and that’s part of the addictive personality. But yeah, he’s an asshole. For a lot of people he’s an asshole. I just really connected to it, so it was easy for me to access it I suppose.”

Keough jumps in: “There’s no version of Sam that’s a dick.”

Excellent news.

Billy (Sam Claflin) is torn between his wife Camila (Camila Morrone) and his attraction to Daisy.

Billy (Sam Claflin) is torn between his wife Camila (Camila Morrone) and his attraction to Daisy.

Filming of the series was delayed by COVID, so the cast spent more than a year rehearsing the songs written for the series over Zoom. Which was a bonus, especially when you were learning guitar from scratch like Claflin was.

“I’ve never been in a recording studio,” says Claflin, who had little musical theater experience. “I had definitely never picked up an instrument before. I was honestly one of the very few people in the whole world who was grateful for the lockdowns because it gave me an extra year and a half to get to grips with the songs and the instrument.”

Keough had at least played the piano, but walking into the studio with the band still came as a shock.

“The first week was pretty tough,” she says. “We had never sung on a microphone, we had never had in-ears [monitors]. We’ve never had loud music while we sang [previously] we sang alone in rooms. So it took us a minute to get used to hearing the whole band together and then figuring out the vocals.”

The next step was to get them on stage together in a rehearsal gig before filming began.

Keough: “It wasn’t the best show, I have to say.”

Claflin: “It was great!”

Keough: “It was fine.”

Claflin: “We were very nervous. They kept throwing little things at us at the last minute like ‘We’ll have you in costume’, ‘Sam too, in the role, could you introduce every song?’ And I never thought to check what band members or singers say between songs. Adele has lengthy anecdotes that she tells between each song. I’m not ready to riff with an audience, I’m not prepared for that.”

Though Jenkins Reid wrote the band’s songs for the book — including one with the memorable line “If you think of me I hope it ruins rock ‘n’ roll” — they were rewritten for the TV series, though Phoebe Bridgers and Marcus Mumford contributed. The result is the album aurora – Keough is the third generation in her family to release a record. Will she give it to friends and family?


“The fact that we have an album is very cool,” she says. “And I think people would like the novelty of having our album for sure. I don’t know if I’m giving it away. You have to pay for it.”

Now they’ve been playing a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, does any of that appeal to Keough or Claflin?

Keough: “It’s certainly tempting. And it’s a lot of fun [being a musician]. But I don’t know if we’re as good musicians as we are actors.”

Claflin: “There’s definitely a freedom in being a musician that I don’t think we necessarily have as actors. We are told where we stand and what to say. There were moments during the recording process where it felt like I was in charge, but I just didn’t know what to ask for or what to do.”

Keough: “There was too much freedom.”

Claflin adds in a mock confused voice, “Yes, but when should I have lunch?”

Keough: “I was in the studio too and I was like, ‘Is it lunchtime? how long do we have When am I coming back?’ It was too much!”

Daisy Jones and the Six Streams on Amazon Prime from March 3rd.

Find out the next TV, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Get The Watchlist delivered to you every Thursday. How Elvis’ granddaughter Riley Keough finally found her voice

Jaclyn Diaz

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