Irish Daily Mail



EARLY in my career as a music journalist, I struck up a telephone acquaintan­ce with Elvis Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker. The Beatles began asking if I could arrange for them to meet ‘The King’.

I engineered a meeting in August 1965, which was to be marred by John Lennon’s inability to curb his cutting ‘Liverpool lip’. This summit took place at Elvis’s house in the exclusive LA neighbourh­ood of Bel Air.

All went well until John spotted a table lamp with a slogan in support of America’s then president, Lyndon B. Johnson. A fierce opponent of the war in Vietnam, John regarded ‘LBJ’ as a warmonger responsibl­e for the slaughter of innocent civilians, and this endorsemen­t was unforgivab­le.

Knowing any mention of Vietnam would lead to a political argument in which he’d be outnumbere­d by the patriotic Presley and his entourage, he chose instead to belittle his host.

When Elvis boasted it had taken him just 15 days to complete a recent film, John sneered: ‘We’ve got an hour to spare. Let’s make an epic together.’

Stunned, Elvis held his tongue but started a highly personal vendetta against The Beatles. This would be fuelled by his suspicions about their increasing­ly shaggy appearance, and the inclusion of Karl Marx’s face on the cover of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in 1967.

To Presley, this offered proof they were druggies and ‘a real force for anti-American spirit’, as he wrote to President Richard Nixon in 1970. Although Nixon and the FBI were apparently sympatheti­c to his demands that The Beatles be barred from the US, The Beatles had powerful friends of their own.

John eventually made his home in New York, only to be shot dead there by a crazed fan in December 1980. It’s strange to think if Elvis had succeeded in banning him from the US he might still be alive today.

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