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John Lennon was a huge fan of songs by Elvis Presley. During an interview, John revealed one of Little Richard’s songs impressed him more than the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s music. Notably, Elvis covered the song.

Elvis Presley with a guitar
Elvis Presley | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

What John Lennon thought about Elvis Presley after hearing a Little Richard song for the 1st time

According to the book The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Authorized Biography, John discussed his feelings about Elvis and Little Richard. “Elvis was bigger than religion in my life,” John recalled. “Then this boy at school said he’d got this record by somebody called Little Richard who was better than Elvis — we used to go to this boy’s house after school and listen to Elvis on 78s: we’d buy five ciggies loose and some chips and go along.”

One Little Richard song moved John. “The new record was Little Richard’s ‘Long Tall Sally,'” he said. “When I heard it, it was so great I couldn’t speak.”

Little Richard’s version of “Long Tall Sally” changed John’s view of Elvis. “You know how you are torn,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave Elvis, but this was so much better. We all looked at each other, but I didn’t want to say anything against Elvis, even in my mind. How could they both be happening in my life?”

John Lennon wanted to view Elvis Presley and Little Richard as different

John still wanted to think of Elvis and Little Richard as very different. “But I thought about it for days at school, of the labels on the records of Elvis and Little Richard,” he said. “One was yellow and the other was blue, and I thought of the yellow against the blue.”

Although John wanted to emphasize the difference between Little Richard and the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis said Little Richard inspired his songs. He called Little Richard “the greatest.” In addition, the “Can’t Help Falling in Love” singer covered “Long Tall Sally” and “Tutti Frutti.”


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The way the world reacted to ‘Long Tall Sally’

“Long Tall Sally” became one of the most famous 1950s rock songs. It was released before the Billboard Hot 100 existed, so it didn’t make the chart. However, a re-recorded version of “Long Tall Sally” later appeared on the compilation album Little Richard’s Greatest Hits. The album peaked at No. 184 on the Billboard 200, staying on the chart for three weeks.

On the other hand, the original “Long Tall Sally” was a big hit in the United Kingdom. According to The Official Charts Company, the song peaked at No. 3 in the U.K., staying on the chart for 16 weeks. Meanwhile, Little Richard’s Greatest Hits did not chart in the U.K. “Long Tall Sally” was a big hit in the U.K. and it meant a lot to John.