Why George Harrison Stayed Outside During The Beatles’ Meeting With Elvis Presley

George Harrison stayed outside for most of The Beatles‘ meeting with their idol, Elvis Presley. The King of Rock & Roll’s stylist found him in the backyard, where they talked about spirituality. George hadn’t dived head-first into Eastern religion yet, but he was about to. Once he did, people like Elvis didn’t impress him anymore.

The Beatles, including George Harrison, coming back to England in 1965.
The Beatles | Bettmann/Getty Images

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 Presley.

“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!’

In Here Comes The Sun: The Spiritual And Musical Journey Of George Harrison, Joshua M. Greene quotes Elvis’ stylist, Larry Geller, saying the band and their idol jammed together.

John gave his best Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau impression when he entered the room. “Ah, zere you are,” he said. “Sit down,” Elvis said. “We’ll talk.” George and the rest of The Beatles sat cross-legged and drooling in front of Elvis. They jammed, but George soon lost interest.

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George went outside for most of The Beatles’ meeting with Elvis

After The Beatles jammed with Elvis, Greene wrote that the “banter flowed,” and everyone started conversing and jamming. However, eventually, Geller noticed that George was missing and found him outside.

Greene wrote, “Geller told George that he had been studying the teachings of kriya-yoga master Paramahansa Yogananda since 1960 and often discussed them with Elvis. ‘That really surprised George,’ Geller said. ‘He wasn’t expecting that from Elvis. You need to remember the times.

“‘When the Beatles came on the scene in 1964, it was the middle of a cultural explosion, not a spiritual one. Nobody was talking about yoga. Elvis was getting into it, but he didn’t talk about it publicly…'”

In 1965, George was on the cusp of beginning his spiritual journey. After LSD opened his mind and his soon-to-be musical and spiritual guru, Ravi Shankar, filled it with God-consciousness, George was a fully-fledged spiritualist.

His conversation with Geller was more interesting than fawning over Elvis. The King couldn’t teach him anything. Plus, George had already started to feel uncomfortable with his fame.

Geller continued, “Everybody else was in the house with Elvis, and when the conversation first started, they were telling him, ‘Oh, Elvis, we’re here because of you. You started the whole thing, man. If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t even be in music.’

“George stayed in the room for maybe twenty minutes—then he left. Why did he leave? It seemed to me he was distancing himself from the fame and the adulation. This was in 1965, just as his career was spiking, and I remember thinking, ‘Interesting. This guy’s an ascetic.'”

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By 1965, nothing impressed the Beatle, not even The King

In the mid-1960s, George hit a wall where nothing impressed him, least of all Elvis. Thankfully, he met Shankar.

“Nothing was giving me a buzz anymore,” he told CBS This Morning. George continued, “I just thought, well, I’m looking for something really, really beyond just the ordinary, the mundane. . . . I wanted somebody to impress me.”

Shankar gave George religious texts and showed him around India so he could see the culture for himself. It changed George’s life.

According to Quartz India, George said, “Ravi was my link into the Vedic world. Ravi plugged me into the whole of reality. I mean, I met Elvis—Elvis impressed me when I was a kid, and impressed me when I met him because of the buzz of meeting Elvis, but you couldn’t later on go round to him and say, ‘Elvis, what’s happening in the universe?'”

After beginning his spiritual journey, George was not impressed with Elvis or many of his other idols. Only Krishna impressed him.

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