On August 27th 1965, Elvis Presley welcomed four very special guests from Liverpool to his home in Bel Air as The King passed on the torch to the next generation who had picked up the mantle—and The Beatles made it clear that if it wasn’t for Presley then they wouldn’t be where they were.
The Beatles were in awe of Presley and, even though he was living away from the public eye at this point, hanging out with The Fab Four was a request that even Elvis couldn’t turn down. The band had initiated contact when they saw the gap in their diaries and to their elation, Elvis agreed.
“He respected them. Mostly he respected the way they had achieved their artistic freedom. He saw how they did whatever they liked to do,” Priscilla Presley said about her late former husband’s opinion on the scousers. “On Perugia Way in Bel Air, there were nearly as many security men outside as fans. This was definitely treated as a summit. 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. The Beatles respected that role enormously,” she added.
The two iconic acts ended up jamming with Elvis taking up duties on the bass which he had been learning to play for some time. The Beatles, of course, were more than happy to play second fiddle to The King. According to what Priscilla commented about the evening, the two legendary figures spoke more with the language of music than any deep discussions about life.
The following day The Beatles played at San Francisco’s Balboa Stadium, local radio DJ, Jerry G. Bishop was aware of their meeting with The King the night before and managed to capture their immediate reaction to meeting one of their biggest heroes.
When asked if he felt like the meeting lived up to his expectations, Macca revealed, “I think he was exactly like I imagined, yeah. I didn’t quite know what to expect when we went there, you know. I mean, I thought that he’d be the same, but I didn’t know how the atmosphere or anything would be in the place. But it was good, ‘cuz it was all old mates around. Old mates of his, you know, and we brought quite a few of ours. And so we just had a bit of a ‘do.”
This sentiment was backed up by Lennon, “He just seemed normal to us, you know. And we were asking him about just making movies and not doing any personal appearances or TV. And he seems to enjoy it, you know. I think he enjoys making movies so much. We couldn’t stand not doing personal appearances. We’d get bored. We get bored quickly. He says he misses it a bit, you know. He’s just… he was great. He was just how I expected him.”
It’s a true travesty that no footage exists of this meeting but that was exactly the beauty of it, with both sides agreeing that they didn’t want this union of giants to be ruined by having it documented in the press and wanted it to be as pure as possible. The Beatles and Elvis were at very different stages of their career and didn’t go on to have a long friendship but this night will live long in the history books.