John Lennon Sent Elvis a Heartfelt Message After Meeting Him
John Lennon said that Elvis Presley grew to disappoint him. Before this, though, he idolized the American artist. Lennon listened to Elvis as a child and took early inspiration from him. After The Beatles met Elvis in 1965, Lennon sent Elvis a message to express how much he meant to him. Here’s how Elvis responded to his words.
John Lennon sent a message to Elvis Presley
In 1965, The Beatles met Elvis at his Bel Air home. They had been trying to meet him for a long time and finally succeeded.
“We were always in the wrong place at the wrong time to meet him, and we would have just gone round or something, but there was a whole lot of palaver about where we were going and how many people should go and everything, with the managers Colonel Tom and Brian working everything out,” Lennon said in The Beatles Anthology.
During the visit, Lennon and Paul McCartney jammed with Elvis. The following day, Lennon told Elvis’ friend, Jerry Schilling, to deliver a message to the musician. Per the book Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick, Lennon wanted Elvis to know that “if it hadn’t been for him I would have been nothing.”
Schilling was more than happy to pass on the message, but Elvis didn’t seem all that excited about it.
“I was thrilled, of course, and I told Elvis, but he didn’t say anything, he just kind of smiled,” Schilling said. “That was it.”
John Lennon idolized Elvis Presley when he was a child
Lennon said that Elvis was one of the first people who made him feel excited about music. He recalled feeling thunderstruck when he first heard him.
“The music papers were saying that Presley was fantastic, and at first I expected someone like Perry Como or Sinatra,” Lennon said. “‘Heartbreak Hotel’ seemed a corny title and his name seemed strange in those days. But then, when I heard it, it was the end for me. I first heard it on Radio Luxembourg. He turned out to be fantastic. I remember rushing home with the record and saying, ‘He sounds like Frankie Laine and Johnnie Ray and Tennessee Ernie Ford!'”
Suddenly, all Lennon wanted to do was play music.
“I’m an Elvis fan because it was Elvis who really got me out of Liverpool,” he said. “Once I heard it and got into it, that was life, there was no other thing. I thought of nothing else but rock’n’roll; apart from sex and food and money — but that’s all the same thing, really.”
Elvis didn’t want to meet The Beatles
Lennon was thrilled to meet Elvis, but Elvis didn’t initially want to meet The Beatles. He barely reacted when they walked in.
“When John [Lennon], Paul [McCartney], Ringo [Starr] and George [Harrison] walked in, Elvis was relaxing on the couch, looking at TV without the sound,” Priscilla Presley wrote in her book Elvis by the Presleys. “He barely bothered to get up.”
Still, he wanted to show The Beatles he was a force to be reckoned with.
“He viewed this whole world of music coming from England — The Beatles, the Stones and the Dave Clark Five — with tremendous interest and, I suppose, some trepidation. He acknowledged their talent and energy — he told me on many occasions — but he worried about losing popularity,” Priscilla wrote. “And in 1965, no one was more popular than The Beatles … The fact that Elvis greeted them with studied casualness didn’t mean he didn’t care. He did. He was simply affirming his role as Original King.”