Beatles star ‘felt sorry’ for Elvis Presley in ‘sad’ final reunion

The Beatles became one of the biggest and most influential bands of all time, but they couldn’t have done it without the inspiration of Elvis Presley. In 1950s England, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison worshiped the King of Rock and Roll. However, during the last years of the star’s life, he changed dramatically. He gained weight, became dependent on prescription drugs and alcohol, and was generally finished. When Harrison saw this firsthand, he was devastated.

Before Harrison died on November 29, 2001, he recalled how he last met Elvis. He said: “I met him at Madison Square Garden a couple of years before the end.”

Elvis died on August 16, 1977 of cardiac arrest. He was found at his home, Graceland, by his girlfriend at the time, Ginger Alden. His daughter and only child, Lisa Marie Presley, was right next door. He was 42 years old.

Harrison recalled: “It was really kind of sad because it had all these screaming singers and trumpet players and stuff. But it had a great rhythm section, James Burton and all that gang, and I just wanted to say to him, ‘Just put on your jeans and grab your guitar and do it [the song] that’s fine with me mom and sour all that other shit.”

Harrison then spoke angrily about how fame and his desire to please his fans led to Elvis’s death. He mused, “They’ve got lots, lots of songs they can play forever. But what do they want? Blood? Do they want us all to die like Elvis Presley? Elvis got stuck in a rut where all he could do was keep doing the same as always, and in the end his health suffered and that was it”.

The silent Beatle was probably just as furious about how much he admired Elvis. He once spoke candidly about hearing the star’s music for the first time as a boy in Liverpool in his book George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Meetings. He said: “When I heard Elvis’s Heartbreak Hotel, I was riding my bike past someone’s house, and they must have had a gramophone playing. I couldn’t believe the sound of that record.”

He later explained how it was like a religious experience for him. He even compared it to the music made by the Hindu gods, the religion he was a part of in his later life. “In a way,” he said. “When I heard Elvis’s Heartbreak Hotel coming out of someone’s radio when I was a kid on my bike, that’s still Krishna’s flute. The music is still that mystical sound that says, ‘Hey, come on!'” He added that the Hare Krishna’s flute music had the power to “awaken” him.

Harrison later noted, “You have to remember that in the 1950s America was cooler than Britain, and everyone had their little Chevys or Cadillacs. We were coming out of a world war and it was depression. So for us, that was Like the sound of hope.”

He wasn’t the only member of The Beatles to have a powerful reverence for Elvis.

Lennon also spoke highly of the iconic musician. He once said: “Without Elvis, there would be no Beatles.” He later went on to say: “I’m an Elvis fan because it was Elvis who really got me out of Liverpool. If I can blame anyone, Elvis probably, you know.”

He also credited his rock and roll awakening to Heartbreak Hotel. He was quoted: “When I first heard about Heartbreak Hotel… my whole life changed from that moment on. I was completely shocked.”


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