Elvis Reportedly "Flew Into a Rage" Any Time This Star Was Mentioned
Here's what—supposedly—happened when Elvis met another music icon.
They say, "never meet your heroes"… and it looks like that warning applies even if you're a hugely famous star yourself. Elvis Presley and John Lennon are two of the most iconic musicians of all time, but having that in common didn't mean that they got along. According to one account from someone close to them, Presley "flew into a rage" at the mere mention of Lennon's name.
The issues began when Presley and Lennon first met each other in 1965. At the time, the Beatles were a couple of years into being the biggest band in the world, while Presley had been famous for about a decade. Read on to find out what went wrong when the King and the singer-songwriter crossed paths.
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A meeting between the musical acts was arranged.
The Beatles and Presley met in August 1965 when a meeting was arranged by their respective teams while the Beatles were in Los Angeles. Accounts of the meeting differ, but three insiders who have spoken out about it publicly all agree that it was, at the very least, awkward.
Journalist Ivor Davis, who had grown close to the Beatles and wrote the book The Beatles and Me On Tour, told Closer Weekly that he was there the night the Beatles and Presley met.
"For about 10 minutes, nothing happened," Davis said to the outlet. "It was very awkward, and the reason nothing happened was that nobody had the good sense to say, 'Elvis, here is John, Paul [McCartney], George [Harrison], and Ringo [Starr].' So they sat around like uncomfortable guests."
Similarly, Presley's wife, Priscilla, wrote in the book Elvis by the Presleys (via Closer), "When John, Paul, Ringo, and George walked in, Elvis was relaxing on the couch, looking at TV without the sound. He barely bothered to get up."
Presley was supposedly bothered by Lennon's political opinions.
Chris Hutchins, a journalist and publicist, was one of the people to set up the meeting, according to a piece he wrote in the Daily Mail. Hutchins wrote that Presley didn't like the anti-war comments Lennon had made during their meeting.
"John had annoyed Presley by making his anti-war feelings known the moment he stepped into the massive lounge and spotted the table lamps—model wagons engraved with the message: 'All the way with LBJ,'" Hutchins wrote. "Lennon hated President Lyndon B. Johnson for raising the stakes in the Vietnam War."
According to the book The Beatles: Off the Record, Hutchins said of the Beatles leaving the meeting, "As we walked to the car, [Presley's manager] Colonel [Tom Parker] said to me, 'Tell the fans it was a great meeting.' John overheard this, laughed and said, 'Tell them the truth. It was a load of rubbish.'"
McCartney reportedly also said something that annoyed Presley.
According to Davis, the ice eventually broke during the awkward introduction, and the Beatles and Presley began playing music together.
"Then Paul said something to Elvis like, 'Elvis, we love your music. We wish you would make more songs like you did in the old days,'" Davis told Closer. "Well, I want to tell you that Elvis did not like that, because he actually thought, 'Why are these guys telling me that my old stuff is better and, presumably, my new stuff isn't very good?'"
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Presley bonded with another star over his dislike of Lennon.
Hutchins' Daily Mail story is about Presley's friendship with singer Tom Jones, and he wrote that they bonded over not liking Lennon. According to Hutchins, Presley told Jones that Lennon should have been kicked out of the U.S., and Jones said he didn't like a "smart remark" that Lennon had made around him. Hutchins wrote that Jones "wanted to take [Lennon] outside and see what sort of hiding his intellect would stand." Hutchins continued, "For the first time that night, Presley smiled. Tom was talking his kind of language."
Hutchins claimed, "Whenever John Lennon's name came up, [Presley] would fly into a rage."
Priscilla said Presley was "curious" about the Beatles.
The Beatles were excited to meet Presley, who was someone they looked up to, and by all accounts, the meeting was initiated from their side. Priscilla shared Presley's side of the story in Elvis by the Presleys.
"Naturally he was curious about The Beatles," Priscilla wrote. "He respected them. Mostly he respected the way they had achieved their artistic freedom. He saw how they did whatever they liked to do." She continued, "He acknowledged their talent and energy— he told me on many occasions—but he worried about losing popularity. And in 1965, no one was more popular than The Beatles … The fact that Elvis greeted them with studied casualness didn't mean he didn't care. He did. he was simply affirming his role as Original King."
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