Subscribe to our newsletter

Credit: Bent Rej/Wikimedia


The Elvis move that John Lennon called "stupid"


The Beatles were never ones to hide their admiration for Elvis Presley. Apart from covering The King in their early years, the band frequently referenced Presley in interviews and often lauded him as the primary inspiration behind their shared love of rock and roll.

A somewhat awkward meeting between the two legendary acts in 1965 didn’t cause John Lennon to waver on his fandom, but as he and The Beatles continued to get more and more experimental in their compositions, the influence of Elvis on their sound began to rapidly decline. Lennon retained a rabid fandom of ’50s rock and roll, however, assembling a contractually obligated covers album in 1975 full of classic songs from that era. But Elvis was not included among the selections.

When talking to Rolling Stone in 1971, Lennon explained that while Presley’s music was a major influence, he and the rest of his bandmates purposefully didn’t attempt to recreate Elvis’ signature stage moves.

“This is interesting: in the early days in England, all the groups were like Elvis and a backing group, and The Beatles deliberately didn’t move like Elvis,” Lennon explained. “That was our policy because we found it stupid and bullshit.”

It was only when friends and rivals The Rolling Stones arrived on the scene that Lennon felt that The Beatles stoic stage manner came into question. “Then Mick Jagger came out and resurrected ‘bullshit movement,’ wiggling your arse. So then people began to say The Beatles were passé because they don’t move. But we did it as a conscious move.”

Lennon also acquiesced that The Beatles attempted a brief period of greater theatrics, but dismissively put down what he considered to be the modern performance style of the time. “When we were younger, we used to move, we used to jump around and do all the things they’re doing now, like going on stage with toilet seats and shitting and pissing.” 

Now that’s an image that’s hard to get out of your brain.