One of John Lennon’s famous quotes has gone down in annuls of music history about his obsession with Elvis Presley.
In Hunter Davies’ The Beatles, John was reported as saying: “Nothing affected me until I heard Elvis. Without Elvis, there would be no Beatles.”
As well as this, John has also been reported as saying: “When I heard [Heartbreak Hotel], it was the end for me…
“Once I heard it and got into it, that was life, there was no other thing. I thought of nothing else but rock ‘n’ roll.”
What did John Lennon have to say about Elvis Presley?
He expanded on this in a 1975 interview, recorded in Geoffrey and Brenda Giuliano’s collection The Lost Lennon Interviews.
John said: “When I first heard Heartbreak Hotel, I could hardly make out what was being said. It was just the experience of hearing it and having my hair stand on end.
“We’d never heard American voices singing like that. They always sang like Sinatra or enunciate very well.
“Suddenly, there’s this hillbilly hiccuping on tape echo and all this bluesy stuff going on. And we didn’t know what Elvis was singing about…
John Lennon and Yoko Ono
“It took us a long time to work what was going on. To us, it just sounded as a noise that was great.”
However, later in life, in his famed 1980s Playboy interview with Yoko Ono, John was a little unkind about his idol, though this comment did come after the pair had an awkward meeting.
He said: “When Help! came out in ’65, I was actually crying out for help…
“It was my fat Elvis period. You see the movie: He – I – is very fat, very insecure, and he’s completely lost himself.
“And I am singing about when I was so much younger and all the rest, looking back at how easy it was.”
People believed Elvis to have lost his touch in his later years, donning white bedazzled jumpsuits on stages in Las Vegas.
However, in the same interview, John said The King “might have been a father figure,” which shows how strong his influence was.
Did Elvis Presley and John Lennon ever meet?
Elvis Presley is reported to have disliked John Lennon particularly, even requesting he be removed from the USA because of some of his views.
This all came to head, according to journalist and PR man Chris Hutchins, when Elvis and the Beatles met at a party, and things were tense very quickly.
He said: “His dislike of the pacifist Beatle was born from the night I took the Fab Four to his house for their first – and last – 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 [former US President Lyndon B Johnson]’.
“Lennon hated President Lyndon B Johnson for raising the stakes in the Vietnam War.”
Of course, Elvis served in the army from 1958 to 1960, during which he had a very rocky time and it became formative in his life.
During his time stationed in the USA, Elvis’ mother, Gladys, died, after which he was sent to Germany to serve, meeting his future wife, Priscilla.
However, this time was also important to Elvis as it as been claimed it was during this time Elvis began to use amphetamines and other drugs, which eventually caused his ill health and death.
But regardless of this, he felt John’s anti-war and anti-army sentiments were un-American, so much so he wanted to see the Liverpudlian booted out of the country.
Chris Hutchins added: “Presley allied himself with the FBI director Edgar Hoover and encouraged him to have Lennon thrown out of the US.”
Clearly the pair were never destined to be buddies, despite John and his bandmates’ love of the legendary singer.