The Beatles’ Press Officer Said Elvis Was a ‘Boring Old Fart’ When the Band Visited Him
In 1965, The Beatles visited Elvis Presley at his home in California. The band could hardly contain their excitement; they had idolized Elvis for years and finally had the chance to meet him. Though the visit was a bit awkward at first, each of The Beatles walked away from it happy they had met Elvis. The same could not be said for their press officer, Tony Barrows, who found the meeting quite dull.
The Beatles visited Elvis Presley in 1965
In 1965, after several years of trying, The Beatles had the opportunity to meet with Elvis.
“We met Elvis Presley at the end of our stay in LA,” Paul McCartney said in The Beatles Anthology. “We’d tried for years to, but we could never get to him. We used to think we were a bit of a threat to him and Colonel Tom Parker, which ultimately we were. So although we tried many times, Colonel Tom would just show up with a few souvenirs and that would have to do us for a while. We didn’t feel brushed off; we felt we deserved to be brushed off. After all, he was Elvis, and who were we to dare to want to meet him? But we finally received an invitation to go round and see him when he was making a film in Hollywood.”
At first, their meeting was a bit awkward; everyone stood around, waiting for someone to make a move. After a time, though, they settled in. McCartney and John Lennon began jamming with Elvis, George Harrison began searching for marijuana, and Ringo Starr started a game of pool.
The Beatles would go on to say that they enjoyed their time with Elvis; McCartney even said it was “one of the great meetings” of his life. Barrow did not feel the same way, though.
“To be honest,” he said, per the book Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick, “I’d describe Elvis on that showing as a boring old fart — but I do know Ringo enjoyed his game of pool.”
The Beatles were more impressed by Elvis Presley than Tony Barrow was
While The Beatles would have disappointing encounters with Elvis in the future, they said they walked away from this meeting happy.
“I think he liked us,” McCartney said. “I think at that time he may have felt a bit threatened, but he didn’t say anything. We certainly didn’t feel any antagonism.”
Harrison described the meeting as “one of the highlights of the tour,” and Lennon admired Elvis’ large home.
“It was very exciting, we were all nervous as hell, and we met him in his big house in LA — probably as big as the one we were staying in, but it still felt like, ‘Big house, big Elvis.’ He had lots of guys around him, all these guys that used to live near him (like we did from Liverpool; we always had thousands of Liverpool people around us, so I guess he was the same),” he said. “And he had pool tables! Maybe a lot of American houses are like that, but it seemed amazing to us; it was like a nightclub.”
The band eventually grew disappointed in the American artist
After this first meeting, The Beatles began to lose faith in Elvis. His career took a downturn, and, even worse, he grew to resent them.
“The saddest part is that, years and years later, we found out that he tried to have us banished from America, because he was very big with the FBI,” Starr said. “That’s very sad to me, that he felt so threatened that he thought, like a lot of people, that we were bad for American Youth.”
Lennon believed that Elvis’ career began to sink after he joined the army, which occurred before The Beatles met him.
“He played some good stuff after the army, but it was never quite the same,” he said. “It was like something happened to him psychologically. Elvis really died the day he joined the army. That’s when they killed him, and the rest was a living death.”