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|THE KING AND I
40 years after he left the building, Nancy Sinatra, Tom Jones, Macca & more recall their bizarre encounters with Elvis
August 06, 2017 - The Mail Online / Elvis Express Radio
|On a cool night in April 1976, following a storming show in a Memphis auditorium, a 26-year-old Bruce Springsteen took a 3am cab ride to Graceland, Elvis Presley’s mansion.
Noticing a light on inside, Springsteen – along with E Street Band guitarist and fellow Elvis devotee Steve Van Zandt – jumped the fence and ran up the hill to the front door in the
hope of meeting his idol.
Before he could ring the doorbell, security intercepted Springsteen, telling him that Elvis had already left the building and gone west to play a show in Lake Tahoe – which was true.
Springsteen then explained that not only was he a legitimate fan but he was famous in his own right, adding that he’d recently released Born To Run – the album that would cement
Springsteen’s stardom – and appeared on the cover of Time magazine.
Unimpressed, the Graceland goons escorted the scruffy chancers back to the gate and bade them farewell.
The Boss never got to meet The King.
He joined a roll call of A-list rockers who never met Elvis that features the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, David Bowie and Rod Stewart. Some stars came tantalisingly close and are still
kicking themselves that they didn’t shake his bejewelled hand.
One or two simply got over-excited. Beach Boy Brian Wilson attempted an ill-advised karate chop on Elvis when they bumped into each other at a Hollywood recording studio. The
first-degree black belt blocked the blow, told him ‘cut it out, Duke’, then stalked off.
Then there were those who got lucky: Paul McCartney, Robert Plant and, of course, Tom Jones, who would regularly summon the memory of his friend while sitting as a judge on
Very few found meeting the Memphis Flash to be a drag. In 1975, Presley’s people contacted Eric Clapton. ‘Would he and his girlfriend [Pattie Boyd] care to go to the cinema with
Clapton accepted the invitation but Boyd recollects that, although relations were cordial, they were seated a few rows behind Presley in an old-fashioned cinema, and watched
‘boring Fifties movies’.
But at least the guitarist, nicknamed ‘God’, had shared the rarefied air with the ultimate rock god. Many didn’t and pretty soon it was too late.
Presley died on August 16 1977, aged 42, and music fans the world over went into mourning. As the 40th anniversary of his death approaches, Elvis remains an icon, an enigma
and a thriving industry. He is still famous beyond measure, as John Lennon reflected: ‘It was murder for us Beatles at the height of the hysteria. But there were four of us to share it.
Elvis was on his own. It must have been impossible.’
Those who met Elvis couldn’t help falling in love. For the millions who didn’t meet him, he is always on their mind…
All shook up... an audience with Elvis
Co-starred with Elvis in ‘Speedway’, 1968
‘He always made me laugh. He was silly, funny and such a lovely guy to be around. When we did our movie he had a tandem made for us. He’d say, “Nancy, let’s go for a ride”, and
then off we’d go and within seconds all these Elvis fans would descend on us and we wouldn’t get more than a few minutes cycling done. But it was fun. He loved life, he loved to
The Beatles met Elvis on August 27, 1965, at his home in Bel Air
‘Elvis wasn’t a disappointment, because when we met him it was a great period – we didn’t meet him in the later period when he’d lost it a bit. He met us at the door of his Hollywood
house. The thing that sticks out in my mind is that he had the first remote control for a telly I’d ever seen. And he was switching channels! We were like, “How are you doing that?”
‘I really liked him. He didn’t talk much. And he looked great. He was a really cool, casual guy. And he was playing bass, so that was great for me. I couldn’t give him any hints, but I
could at least talk knowledgeably about it. I felt a bond with him, like, “Hey, I play bass too.”’
Led Zeppelin toured the US in 1974 and went to see Elvis live at the LA Forum on May 11
‘We’d seen him play and halfway through he’d stopped his band and said, “We gotta get this right, we’ve got Led Zeppelin in the building tonight.” I nearly burst into tears. Jimmy
[Page] told Elvis that I always sang his songs in soundchecks. And Elvis said, “Which song of mine do you like singing?” I told him it was the song Love Me. So as we were leaving
he signed an autograph, “To Robert, treat me like a fool” – which is a line from the song. Then, as we were walking down the corridor, he swung around and said, “Hey, Robert
[sings]: Treat me like a fool, treat me mean and cool...” So I joined in and the pair of us were singing to each other like a couple of geezers coming out of the Queen’s Head on a
Took Karen Carpenter to meet Elvis backstage in Las Vegas, 1968
‘He invited us back to his dressing room and he was impressed with us, let’s put it that way. Karen and I were the biggest female artists in the world and he had some ideas about
how the evening should end!
‘It was getting very flirty indeed and Karen, bless her, was charming but she was a bit naive so I decided to be Mary Poppins. I said, “We have to go, you’ve got that thing in the
morning. Thank you Elvis.” He watched us leave and he was laughing. He thought it was very charming.’
When Elvis met Alice in 1971, he handed him a loaded gun and ordered him to point it at him so he could show off his kung fu skills
‘The thought came to me that this could be one of the great moments in rock history. The little devil on my right shoulder said, “Kill him.” The angel on my other shoulder said, “Just
wound him!” But I needn’t have worried. Elvis disarmed me easily and I wound up on the floor with his boot on my throat. I was like [strangulated]: “That’s great, Elvis!”’
Jones and Presley became friends, having first met in September 1965
‘I was at Paramount Studios and they told me Elvis wanted to meet me. I didn’t think he’d even heard of me. I had a single out at the time, With These Hands, and as he walked over
to me he was singing it. I mean, he was doing it – the hands, everything. As he gets nearer, he points at me and says, “It’s a great song.” And I mumble, “Oh, thanks.” He said, “Man,
how’d you learn to sing like that?” And I said, “It’s your fault. I was influenced by you.”.
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