brushed off, we felt we deserved to be brushed off. After all, he was Elvis, and who were we to dare to want to meet him? But we finally received an invitation to go round and see him when he was making a film in Hollywood.”
Of the Beatles, John was Elvis’ biggest fan and critic. “When I first heard ‘Heartbreak Hotel,’ I could hardly make out what was being said. It was just the experience of hearing it and having my hair stand on end. We’d never heard American voices singing like that. They’d always sung like Sinatra who enunciated well. Suddenly, there’s this hillbilly hiccupping with echo and all this bluesy background going on. We didn’t know what the hell Presley was singing about or Little Richard or Chuck Berry. To us, it just sounded like great noise.”
It was these comments by John Lennon that infuriated many of the King’s disciples. He divides Elvis’ career into before and after serving in the military. “Up until Elvis joined the army, I thought it was beautiful music and Elvis was for me and my generation what the Beatles were to the ‘60s. But after he went into the army, I think they cut “les bollocks” off. They not only shaved his hair off but I think they shaved between his legs, too. Elvis really died the day he joined the army. That’s when they killed him, and the rest was a living death.”
Five years later, any pretence of camaraderie was over. Elvis called in the big dog by appealing to President Richard Nixon to ban the Beatles in the United States, on grounds that their drug use would corrupt America’s youth.
Elvis goes narc
On December 21, 1970, the year that John Lennon was the de facto leader of the anti-war movement, Elvis paid a visit to President Nixon at the White House. The meeting was proceeded by the King’s rambling six-page letter suggesting that he be made a “Federal Agent-at-Large” in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
After a brief consultation with White House counsel, John Dean, Nixon appointed Elvis an honorary DEA agent and gave him a shiny new badge to prove it. Detractors claim that Elvis had not interest in fighting drug use, but just wanted this as an addition to his burgeoning police badge collection.
By the time he met Nixon, Elvis was already in decline, having transitioned from Young to Fat Elvis. This ignominy was emblazoned in popular culture. In 1992, the nation was faced with two major decisions: who to vote for President, and whether to choose young Elvis or fat Elvis for his commemorative stamp. It was decisive on both counts. The American public chose young Bill Clinton over old George Herbert Walker Bush, and young over fat Elvis.
The metaphor of Young Elvis vs. Fat Elvis lives on. The expression reared its ugly head at former President Bill Clinton, calling his speech at the Democratic Convention of 1988 the