George Harrison Said The Beatles Smoked Herbal Cigarettes Before Meeting Elvis Presley

George Harrison and the rest of The Beatles idolized Elvis Presley. When the group became just as famous as The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, their manager, Brian Epstein, organized a meeting. The Beatles arrived at Elvis’ Beverly Hills mansion in a fit of giggles after having smoked some herbal cigarettes.

George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr of The Beatles following John's successful drivers license exam in 1965.
George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr of The Beatles | Mirrorpix/Getty Images

It took three days for Brian Epstein to organize a meeting with The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Once The Beatles had taken the U.S. by storm, they were ready to meet their biggest idol. According to Joshua M. Greene’s Here Comes The Sun: The Spiritual And Musical Journey Of George Harrison, John Lennon told the press in 1965 that Elvis was the only person in the United States that they really wanted to meet. “It was difficult to describe how we felt about him,” John said. “We just idolized the guy so much.”

Getting a meeting with The King proved to be a hard task, even for The Beatles. It took Epstein three days of negotiations with Elvis’ manager Colonel Tom Parker. However, he succeeded in scoring a meeting for his band and their idol.

“Word had somehow leaked out that they would be visiting that evening, and thousands of people had gathered outside the gates,” Greene wrote.

However, George and The Beatles were in a state by the time they reached Elvis’ front door.

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George Harrison said The Beatles smoked herbal cigarettes before meeting Elvis Presley

In a 1987 interview with Creem Magazine, George explained that The Beatles smoked herbal cigarettes before meeting Elvis.

“He was really nice and he was charming, and it was a big thrill for us, meeting him–­especially because … well, we looked forward to it, but it was probably up on Mullholland Drive, which goes around and around and around, and we were in the dark, in the back of this limo,” George said.

“We used to smoke these herbal cigarettes in those days, and we had a couple of those and we had the gig­gles, going into hysterics, and then we totally forgot where we were going or what we were doing. And suddenly, we pulled up at this big gate and we said, ‘What is it? Where are we? What’s go­ing on?’ And then somebody said, ‘It’s Elvis!’ ‘We’ve come to see Elvis!’

“Somebody opened the door and we all fell out of this limo, just like the Rutles, all gig­gling, and we ran in the house and there was Elvis sitting there playing this bass.”

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George couldn’t remember if The Beatles and Elvis jammed, but The King’s stylist saID they did

Greene writes that a burly figure escorted George and The Beatles into “a huge, circular room filled with a snooker table, craps table, roulette wheel, guitars on metal stands, and a plush horseshoe couch in the center of the room” where Elvis sat wearing “a bright red shirt, skin-tight black slacks, and a close-fitting black jerkin with a high Napoleonic collar rimming his handsome face.”

Elvis’ Memphis Mafia, Parker, Elvis’ wife, Priscilla, and his stylist were there too.

Creem’s J. Kordosh said it must have been a rumor that The Beatles and Elvis jammed together during that initial meeting. George agreed.

“I can’t tell you,” George said on whether The Beatles jammed with Elvis. “I’ve had a lot of brain fades since that period; I dunno, maybe Paul or Ringo would re­member. But it was a good night, and cer­tainly a great thrill and an honor to meet
him.”

According to Elvis’ stylist, the band and The King did jam a little. Greene writes that John gave his best Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau impression when he entered the room. “Ah, zere you are,” John said. “Sit down,” Elvis said. “We’ll talk.” George and the rest of The Beatles sat cross-legged and drooling in front of Elvis like little Kindergarteners.

“They just looked up at him, and I’m telling you their jaws dropped,” said Larry Geller, Elvis’ stylist. “This went on for a while, no one saying a word. The silence was palpable. All of a sudden, Elvis got up and said, ‘Well, if you guys don’t want talk to me, I’m going to bed.’ That broke the ice. They started talking and didn’t stop.”

John then asked Elvis if he could play one of his guitars. Elvis handed him one. Then, Paul and Elvis picked up a guitar. They jammed for the next half hour. Geller said they played “Johnny B. Goode,” “Memphis,” and others.

George and The Beatles never forgot that memorable meeting with Elvis.

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