Elvis Beatles SlaanHunSlag 1964 1500

elvis understood that the beatles were the new idols in 1965

THIS TIME THE QUESTION ON QUORA was “Did Elvis feel threat­ened when the Bea­tles met him?” I guess that’s a rea­son­able ques­tion, es­pe­cially from a younger person who didn’t live through the times when a pop artists’ ca­reer was mea­sured in months, not years. But I took on the Her­culean labor of pro­viding a rea­son­able an­swer.

The Bea­tles’ man­ager Brian Ep­stein arranged with Pres­ley’s man­ager Colonel Parker for the group to be brought over to the house on Pe­rugia Way in Hol­ly­wood where Elvis’ stayed when he was making a movie. The meeting took place during the evening of Au­gust 27, 1965, a Friday.

 

Elvis viewed this music coming from the new idols from Eng­land with tremen­dous in­terest and some trep­i­da­tion.

 

Elvis was in town making Par­adise, Hawaiian Style while John, Paul, George, and Ringo were in town ar part of a brief tour of the country. John later asked Jerry Schilling to tell Elvis how im­por­tant the meeting had been, saying, “If it hadn’t been for him, we would have been nothing.”

My an­swer to the question“Did Elvis feel threat­ened when the Bea­tles met him?” is below, in­dented be­tween the two im­ages. As usual, I did not spec­u­late on an­other per­son’s un­ex­pressed thoughts, opin­ions, or feel­ings. Fol­lowing my posted an­swer you can read Priscil­la’s state­ments re­garding her boyfriend’s meeting the Bea­tles in a longer in greater de­tail.

 

Elvis ImYours ps US 600

At the time that the Bea­tles met Elvis in Hol­ly­wood on Au­gust 27, 1965, a Friday evening. The next day, the latest issue of Cash Box was is­sued and Elvis’s latest single, I’m Yours, would début on the Top 100 at #79. It would peak at #9 seven weeks later, even­tu­ally selling more than 500,000 copies in the US and more than a mil­lion glob­ally.

If it hadn’t been for Elvis

Whether or not Elvis felt “threat­ened” by the Bea­tles when they met is an es­sen­tially unan­swer­able ques­tion, as Elvis never said any­thing on the record one way or an­other about the meeting.

Given the many, many tal­ented and suc­cessful mu­si­cians, ac­tors that Presley had met by 1965, it’s rather doubtful that he would feel in­se­cure with a band of young­sters from Eng­land.

Ac­cording to Priscilla Presley (then Priscilla Beaulieu, Elvis’s 20-year-old live-in girl­friend):

He was cu­rious about the Bea­tles. He re­spected them. Mostly he re­spected the way they had achieved their artistic freedom. He saw how they did what­ever they liked to do. He ap­pre­ci­ated their songs and es­pe­cially their film A Hard Day’s Night where their cre­ativity and sense of fun came through so pow­er­fully.

But Elvis was con­scious of com­peti­tors. He un­der­stood that gen­er­a­tional idols come and go, and that, for this new gen­er­a­tion, the Bea­tles were the new idols. He viewed this whole world of music coming from Eng­land with tremen­dous in­terest and I sup­pose some trep­i­da­tion.

He ac­knowl­edged [the Bea­tles’] talent and energy—he told me so on many occasions—but he wor­ried about losing pop­u­larity. And in 1965, no one was more pop­ular than the Bea­tles.

It’s easy to forget that at the time they met Elvis in 1965, the Bea­tles as a world­wide phe­nom­enon were only two years old. There were many people who thought they wouldn’t last much longer, as few pop stars did.

For­tu­nately, they sur­prised their de­trac­tors and hung around for a few more years …

 

Beatles Help ps US 600

At the time that the Bea­tles met Elvis in Hol­ly­wood on Au­gust 27, 1965, a Friday evening. The next day, the latest issue of Cash Box was is­sued and the Bea­tles’ latest single, Help!, would be listed in the Top 100 at #1. It would spend two more weeks at the top of the chart, easily selling a mil­lion copies in the US and be­coming their sev­enth single to be awarded an RIAA Gold Record.

Elvis was curious about the Beatles

The quote above from Priscilla Presley was lifted from the book Elvis By The Pres­leys. They are her mem­o­ries of that day in Au­gust 1965, told decades after it hap­pened. I can’t guar­antee their ac­cu­racy, but they seem to be in line with state­ments made by others who were there. Here is a larger quote from the book (with minor mod­i­fi­ca­tions for this ar­ticle):

“Some stars want to meet other stars. Some stars have to hang out with other stars. Not Elvis. I can’t re­member him once telling the Colonel to arrange a meeting with anyone fa­mous. He saw Hol­ly­wood as the home of phonies. He cer­tainly felt out of place, which is why the minute the movie wrapped he was gone.

One mem­o­rable evening, the Colonel arranged for Elvis to meet four fa­mous people. But I be­lieve it was the Bea­tles who were eager to meet Elvis, not the other way around. In fact, 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.

Nat­u­rally, he was cu­rious about the Bea­tles. He re­spected them. Mostly he re­spected the way they had achieved their artistic freedom. He saw how they did what­ever they liked to do. He ap­pre­ci­ated their songs and es­pe­cially their film A Hard Day’s Night where their cre­ativity and sense of fun came through so pow­er­fully.

But Elvis was con­scious of com­peti­tors. He un­der­stood that gen­er­a­tional idols come and go, and that, for this new gen­er­a­tion, the Bea­tles were the new idols. He viewed this whole world of music coming from Eng­land with tremen­dous in­terest and I sup­pose some trep­i­da­tion.

He ac­knowl­edged [the Bea­tles’] talent and energy—he told me so on many occasions—but he wor­ried about losing pop­u­larity. And in 1965, no one was more pop­ular than the Bea­tles.

The night they ar­rived at our house on Pe­rugia Way in Bel Air there were nearly as many se­cu­rity men out­side as fans. This was def­i­nitely treated as a summit. 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. The Bea­tles re­spected that role enor­mously.

 

Elvis Priscilla ElvisByThePresleys 600

Priscilla Presley in 2005 with a copy of the new book Elvis By The Pres­leys. The book paints a por­trait of Elvis as an in­tel­li­gent, sen­si­tive, funny guy—the op­po­site of what so many of his de­trac­tors por­tray him as. Doncha think it’s time to give it a read?

When they were es­corted into our living room and fi­nally greeted Elvis, all they could do was stare, es­pe­cially John and Paul. In­tim­i­da­tion was written all over their faces. They couldn’t have been more humble. At first, it was awk­ward. They looked to Elvis for an agenda. But Elvis was simply con­tent to re­cline on the couch and watch sound­less TV.

Was this going to be the ex­tent of the evening’s ac­tiv­i­ties? Thirty min­utes or so into their visit, Elvis got up, put a song on the stereo, picked up his bass and began playing along with the music [and] it broke the ice. Out came the gui­tars and a jam ses­sion was un­derway.

Paul was sur­prised Elvis played bass. The truth is that Elvis had been teaching him­self bass for a while and, given his nat­ural talent, was ac­com­plished within no time. For the rest of the evening, there was more music than talk.

I don’t think Elvis asked the Bea­tles a single ques­tion and I know the Bea­tles were too over­whelmed to ask a ques­tion of Elvis. But they got along and made sweet music to­gether. I re­gret that no one had a camera or tape recorder to record the his­toric mo­ment. When it seemed Elvis was ready to re­tire, the evening came to an end, but not until we all en­joyed sev­eral hours of music and idle chatter.

John and Paul in­vited Elvis to their place—they had leased a house in nearby Bene­dict Canyon—the next night. Elvis smiled and said, ‘We’ll see’. But I knew he had no in­ten­tion of re­turning the visit. Elvis rarely went out in Hol­ly­wood, not even for show busi­ness roy­alty.

Sev­eral of Elvis’ boys, though, took up the offer. When they re­turned they said that John wanted Elvis to know that without him there would be no Bea­tles. He was their first and best in­spi­ra­tion. Elvis liked hearing that.”

Elvis was con­scious of com­peti­tors but un­der­stood the Bea­tles were the new idols in 1965. Click To Tweet

Elvis Beatles SlaanHunSlag 1964 1000

FEATURED IMAGE: Elvis holds up a Dutch mag­a­zine with an ar­ticle that reads, “The Bea­tles slaan hun slag,” which trans­lates to, “The Bea­tles make a killing.” This photo was taken on Feb­ruary 14, 1964, at the press con­fer­ence where Elvis gave Franklin D. Roo­sevelt’s USS Po­tomac (“the Floating White House”) to Danny Thomas as a do­na­tion for St Jude’s Hos­pital.

 

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I have no doubt that Elvis and in­deed Parker were aware of his falling sales and the mas­sive sales of of the fab four.Threatened may be too strong a word but I am sure Elvis and the Col saw the writing on the wall which even­tu­ally led to the 68 Spe­cial.

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Danish must be Nether­lands!

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