Paul McCartney confesses what The Beatles didn’t realise about Elvis at first

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Growing up in later 1950s Liverpool, The Beatles were profoundly influenced by Elvis Presley.

John Lennon was taken aback by Heartbreak Hotel and famously said: “Before Elvis there was nothing.”

Little did the Fab Four know that just over a decade later and The King would be covering their tracks at his live shows.

In fact, the five men who make up the two most successful music acts in history met only once back in 1965, when Elvis invited The Beatles to hang out at his LA home.

And now Sir Paul McCartney has revealed in a new interview something the band failed to realise about The King at first.

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Promoting his personal photographs on display at the National Gallery in London, Macca was asked by Christie’s about being influenced by others: “You were aware of many of the movements in contemporary photography happening all around you. Your friend Jurgen Vollmer was working as an assistant to the great William Klein.

“You knew the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson. Do you think their work consciously affected you as you made images on those trips?”

McCartney then went on to speak of Elvis.

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McCartney shared: “When you’re young, you get excited by new and interesting things. I still do, but when you’re a teenager or in your 20s, you’re so driven and you soak up everything. It’s formative. But at that age, you don’t necessarily know how the things you enjoy fit into a wider narrative.

“With Elvis, for example, it took a while before we realised how important the influence of Sister Rosetta Tharpe or Jimmie Rodgers had been on him. You would just see Elvis and think, ‘Wow! I love this!’ And you would get excited and inspired by it.

“It’s the same with photography. We didn’t appreciate at the time how important photographers like Klein or Cartier-Bresson were to the story of the artform, we just thought their work was interesting.”

Paul McCartney Photographs 1963–64: Eyes of the Storm tickets can be booked here.

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