How Elvis Presley Really Felt About John Lennon When They First Met

The Beatles had already formed by the time Elvis Presley's music first started playing on the BBC, but that doesn't mean his music didn't still have a profound effect on the group. "Elvis songs weren't played until the late 1950s over here because the BBC would never play that sort of stuff," explained Paul Endacott in an exclusive interview with Express.

In a 1975 interview with Geoffrey and Brenda Giuliano, John Lennon talked about the first time he heard Presley: "When I first heard Heartbreak Hotel, I could hardly make out what was being said. ... We'd never heard American voices singing like that" (via Express). For Lennon and the rest of The Beatles, they were more familiar with Frank Sinatra and other crooners than anyone else coming out of America. Once Elvis' music was introduced, though, it was a game-changer for the fledgling band. "Nothing affected me until I heard Elvis," Lennon told Hunter Davies (via Express). "Without Elvis there would be no Beatles."

For Elvis, The Beatles were a sign of changing times, especially as the band grew in popularity. "Elvis, like all iconic entertainers, was conscious of competitors," Priscilla Presley explained in the book, "Elvis by the Presleys" (per CheatSheat). "He understood that generational idols come and go, and that, for this new generation, the Beatles were the new idols."

Elvis Presley said this about John Lennon after they first met

Elvis Presley, despite being a major influence on John Lennon and The Beatles, was not the biggest Beatles fan. Presley, a veteran, was very supportive of former President Lyndon B. Johnson and the Vietnam War, which clashed with Lennon's own political viewpoints.

When Lennon visited Presley's home in Bel Air, California, journalist Chris Hutchins wrote of the meeting: "John had annoyed Presley by making his anti-war feelings known the moment he stepped into the massive lounge and spotted the table lamps — model wagons engraved with the message: All the way with LBJ" (per Express). The meeting stalled until Presley reportedly picked up a bass guitar and started playing music. "For the rest of the evening, there was more music than talk," Priscilla shared in "Elvis by the Presleys" (per CheatSheat). "Instead of sitting down to chat, they simply played for hours. They got along and made sweet music together."

What happened that night left a lasting impression on Presley, and not a good one. Hutchins explains that "Presley allied himself with the FBI director Edgar Hoover and encouraged him to have Lennon thrown out of the US" (per Express). Presley also reportedly told singer Tom Jones that Lennon "should have been kicked out long ago."