The King was a point of interest for The Beatles, especially John Lennon, for quite some time. After pressuring a friend to connect them, Lennon was finally able to meet Elvis Presley, and it did not go well. The Beatles and Presley soon realized they had very different outlooks, and Lennon managed to directly insult Presley’s music in his own home. After the meeting, Presley decided The Beatles were ‘anti-American.’
John Lennon wanted to meet Elvis Presley
John Lennon had been a big fan of Elvis Presley’s music prior to Presley’s time in the military. He pushed his friend Chris Hutchins to arrange a meeting between The Beatles and Presley for quite some time.
Presley was not enamored with the idea. He originally suggested that The Beatles were hoping to use him for publicity, and to ride on his coattails. Presley later relented, and Hutchins set up a meeting. However, Hutchins says it was not comfortable.
“I’d arranged to take them to Elvis’s house in Bel Air, something John had been asking me to do since the previous year. Elvis had prepared a little party for when we got there, but it was rather stilted and felt too obviously set up by me and Elvis’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker,” said Hutchins.
How The Beatles insulted The King
John Lennon was known for being fairly blunt, according to Chris Hutchins. Apparently, this remained true during their visit with The King. Lennon made his distaste at Elvis Presley’s political leanings clear right away.
“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.,’” said Hutchins.
“Lennon hated President Lyndon B. Johnson for raising the stakes in the Vietnam War,” he clarified.
Lennon took it a step further, and threw some serious shade at Presley. He questioned Presley on what happened to his old sound and persona.
“John asked what had happened to the old rock’n’roll Elvis, who at that point was mainly singing the soundtracks to his films. He was half-joking but he meant it,” said Tony Barrow, The Beatles’ press officer.
The following moments were “stilted,” said Barrow, who added that Presley tried to laugh off the comment before bringing in some guitars and starting up a jam session.
Elvis Presley disliked The Beatles
After their meeting, Elvis Presley started making his dislike for The Beatles known. He even railed against them to a somewhat confused Richard Nixon during a visit to the White House in 1970.
“The Beatles had been a real force for anti-American spirit,” Presley told Nixon. Presley went on to add that The Beatles “came to this country, made their money, and then returned to England where they promoted an anti-American theme.”
During a meeting with J. Edgar Hoover after his meeting with Nixon, Presley reported said that, “the Beatles laid the groundwork for many of the problems we are having with young people by their filthy unkempt appearances and suggestive music.”
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