George Harrison enjoyed meeting his idol, Elvis Presley, with the rest of The Beatles in the 1960s. However, George wasn’t as impressed with The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll the next time they met. George wished Elvis’ performance at his famous 1972 Madison Square Garden show went slightly different.
George Harrison said The Beatles smoked herbal cigarettes before arriving at Elvis Presley’s home
In a 1987 interview with Creem Magazine, George talked about the time The Beatles visited Elvis Presley at his Bel Air home in 1965. The Beatles arrived after smoking herbal cigarettes and walked in on The King playing a Fender bass in his living room.
“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.”
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
George had some opinions about Elvis’ 1972 Madison Square Garden show
George recalled the time he saw the legend perform at his 1972 Madison Square Garden concert.
“At that time, I had my uniform: the wornout denim jacket and jeans–looked like a ragman–and I had a big beard and mustache, and long hair down to my waist,” George explained.
“They took me back in the intermission to meet Elvis again and he was in the back of the dressing room–the big rooms with the showers for the footballers and stuff–and I was in the front part just talking to some of the guys. And I’m sitting there, thinking ‘Well, where’s Elvis, then?’ And finally he came out of the back and he was … immaculate.
“I felt like this real grubby little slug and he looked like Lord Siva or something. He seemed to be about eight feet tall and his hair was black and his tan was perfect and he had this big white suit, a gold belt about four feet wide and he was towering above me and I just put a hand out (cowers) and said ‘Hello, Elvis, how are you?’–just cowering like this little ragman.”
Elvis looked amazing. However, George thought his performance was anything but glamorous.
“I wanted to say to him, ‘Why don’t you just come out in your jeans and your black shirt–get rid of all them horrible women singers in your band, all them horrible trumpet players and just have James Burton and the drummer and the bass player and the piano player? Just come out and do ‘That’s All Right, Mama.”
“But instead he came out and did (sings) ‘I did it myyy wayyyy.’ Oh, Jesus. But we all loved Elvis and it was sad to see what happened to him. We still love him and he’s still there in his spirit and in his music and best of luck to him, that’s what I say.”
The former Beatle felt bad for The King
George often said he felt sorry for Elvis. The Beatles were four guys who looked after each other. There was only one Elvis.
“We always had a sense of humor,” George said of The Beatles. “When we were left alone, the four Beatles, we had fun and we had a good sense of humor. We took the ups and the downs together and, I think because we had each other, we helped each other from going crazy or having nervous breakdowns.
“Unlike poor old Elvis, who, although he had 59 friends with him, was not the same. He was the only one who experienced what it was like being Elvis, whereas four of us experienced what it was like being fab.”
The Beatles and Elvis had one thing in common; their throngs of fans. Only George thought Elvis’ fans had a part in killing him. George questioned whether Beatles fans wanted them to be Beatles for the rest of their lives until they died from exhaustion, like what happened to Elvis.
“They’ve got lots and lots of songs they can play forever,” George told Rolling Stone in 1979 about Beatles fans. “But what do they want? Blood? They want us all to die like Elvis Presley? Elvis got stuck in a rut where the only thing he could do was to keep on doing the same old thing, and in the end his health suffered and that was it.”
However, George didn’t give in to fans’ wishes.