Customer Reviews: Elvis Meets the Beatles
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon April 10, 2012
Reporter Chris Hutchins first met the Beatles in Hamburg in 1962, just before they broke into the big time. He was on the US tours in 1964 and 1965 and was trusted by them. Having met Elvis in 1964, he engineered a meeting between Colonel Tom Parker and Brian Epstein, with the purpose of arranging a meeting between the King and the Fabs. The historic meeting took place on the 27th August, 1965, after many false starts and a lot of bargaining.

I know very little about Elvis, but there are very few books about the Beatles that I have not already read, and this book began to ring some alarm bells when a lot of 'myths' cropped up. Often repeated tales of John being born in a bombing raid, being 'shunned' at school and drunk when he met Paul, led me to wonder what else may have been exaggerated. The early part of the Beatles story also relies heavily on interviews with Bill Harry, founder of Merseybeat, who tends to be more than a little biased towards John when repeating the Beatles history. There is a potted history of both the Beatles and Elvis, although I am unable to say whether similar exaggerations in the story of Elvis have been made.

The basic argument of the book is that Elvis was both jealous and resentful of the Beatles success, almost afraid to meet them and that, when he did, there was bad feeling between John and him. In the first chapter Elvis is raving and ranting against Lennon in 1973. However, he was divorced, dependent on drugs and seemingly out of control, so it is possible that Lennon simply represented something for him that he could fight against. There is no doubt that Elvis was very anti Beatles generally and that he exhibited some very strange behaviour - visiting both Nixon and contacting Hoover, with the express desire to act as an 'agent' and hopefully have Lennon deported from the States in the 1970's.

Overall, this is a very interesting read. I certainly had no idea that Elvis was believed to have reported fellow stars for drug use, which seemed more than a little hypocritical when you consider his own reliance on medication. However, I would be inclined to take some of the statements with a pinch of salt - although the basic facts are probably correct. It is a shame that Elvis did feel threatened by the Beatles. In the Beatles "Anthology" they discuss this meeting and it seemed to have less of an impact on them than perhaps it did on Elvis, who was maybe generally dissatisfied with his career at that time. I certainly feel the Beatles were not generally jealous of other musicians and, for example, helped the Rolling Stones to get a recording contract. The music business is large and there is room for everyone. Elvis is certainly the most successful solo singer in music history, as the Beatles are the most successful group. I can't see that ever changing...
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