Alex Wong, Getty Images WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama said he'd…
- Posted by Pat Pemberton
GAB Archive, Redferns
Since that time, numerous other celebrities -- including Elvis Costello, Paul Simon, Katy Perry, Joan Jett, LL Cool J, Taylor Swift and the Beastie Boys -- have toured Graceland. But, like Springsteen, they only saw the King's crib.
Too bad for them. If stories from other celebs are any indication, an Elvis encounter would have been unforgettable. As we honor what would have been Presley's 78th birthday today (Jan. 8), here are some memorable musical meetings with the king of rock and roll.
When Cooper arrived at Presley's Vegas penthouse in the early '70s with Liza Minnelli, Chubby Checker and porn star Linda Lovelace -- all invited by Elvis -- he was frisked by a security team. Despite that, Cooper would wind up with a gun in his hand, pointed at Presley.
"Elvis took me into the kitchen, opened a drawer, and pulled out a loaded pistol, telling me to put it to his head," Cooper told the London Mirror.
Fearing what the security guards would do if they saw him pointing a .32-caliber gun at their boss, the famously macabre Cooper said he felt conflicted.
"A little voice in my left ear was telling me, 'Go on, this is history -- kill him. You'll always be the guy who killed Elvis.'" That's when he encountered Presley's karate training.
"A fraction of a second later Elvis did a flying kick on the gun and sent it flying, before tripping me and pinning me to the ground by my neck, announcing, 'That's how you stop a man with a gun.'"
While Presley inspired members of Led Zeppelin years earlier, Elvis had only heard one of their songs -- "Stairway to Heaven" -- when mutual promoter Jerry Weintraub hooked Presley up with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page in 1972. At Presley's Vegas suite, the meeting was initially awkward, with few words exchanged, according to Cameron Crowe, writing for the Daily Telegraph. Finally, Elvis asked, "Is it true, these stories about you boys on the road?"
Plant, without cracking a smile, said, "Of course not -- we're family men. In fact, I get the most pleasure out of walking the hotel corridors, singing your songs." Then Plant offered his best impersonation of Elvis singing the country song "Love Me."
Elvis and his bodyguards burst out laughing, and the ice was broken.
Two hours later, as Plant and Page were walking down the corridor outside Presley's room, Elvis -- looking quite pleased with himself -- poked his head out the door and began singing, "Treat me like a fooooool," channeling Plant's impression of him.
"I turned around and did my best Elvis right back at him," Plant told the Sunday Mercury.
Michael Ochs Archives
Three years before Ol' Blue Eyes met the King, a reporter showed Presley a magazine story in which Sinatra had indirectly dissed him, saying, "Rock 'n' roll smells phony and false. It is sung, played and written for the most part by cretinous goons and by means of its almost imbecilic reiteration, and sly, lewd, in plain fact, dirty lyrics ... It manages to be the martial music of every side-burned delinquent on the face of the Earth ... [It] is the most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear."
Presley's response: "I admire the man. He's a great success and a fine actor, but I think he shouldn't have said it. He's mistaken about this."
After Presley's two-year stint in the Army, his first TV appearance was guaranteed to be a ratings coup. So Sinatra -- favoring opportunity over personal taste -- had him booked for one of his televised specials, this one titled "Welcome Home Party for Elvis Presley."
When Presley arrived in New Jersey, via Germany, in March of 1960, Sinatra sent his daughter, Nancy, to greet him at the air force base with a box of formal shirts from Dad, according to the DVD "Sinatra: The Classic Duets."
"I was 18 years old and in love with Elvis," Nancy Sinatra said. "It melted my heart to meet him in person."
On the special -- Nancy's first TV appearance -- her father and Elvis got along swimmingly, singing a medley of "Love Me Tender" and "Witchcraft," with Elvis doing a Sinatra impression.
After harmonizing on "Love Me Tender," Sinatra stopped and said, "Man, that's pretty."
During a night of clubbing in his hometown of Memphis, Green dashed to the men's room to relieve himself. While there, he recognized another well-known Memphian.
"I was standing there at the urinal and I thought this fella looked like Elvis, so I asked him," Green told WENN. "He said, 'I am Elvis Presley and you sure look like Al Green.'"
Green said he wanted to shake Presley's hand, but it didn't seem like the right time.
In 1961, Petty was 11 years old and living in Florida when Presley came to shoot his film "Follow That Dream." Petty's uncle, Earl Jernigan, owned a local film-developing business and was due to work on the set so Jernigan's wife -- Petty's aunt -- asked if he wanted to see Elvis.
Petty, his uncle and some cousins drove 30 miles to Ocala, where Presley was scheduled to shoot a scene of him driving up in a car and entering a bank. But Elvis' arrival on the set -- in a line of white Cadillacs – was more dramatic than the actual movie.
"He stepped out radiant as an angel," Petty said, as quoted in the book Conversations With Tom Petty by Paul Zollo. "He seemed to glow and walk above the ground. It was like nothing I'd ever seen in my life. At 50 yards, we were stunned by what this guy looked like."
Uncle Earl introduced Elvis to Petty and his cousins, and Presley smiled and nodded to each.
"I don't know what he said, because I was just too dumbfounded," Petty said.
After the encounter, Petty began collecting anything he could find on Elvis, deciding then that his path in life would have to involve rock and roll.
After many unsuccessful attempts to meet their hero, the Beatles decided when it finally did happen -- on Aug. 27, 1965 -- there'd be no circus. No leaks to the press, no photos and no recordings.
The Fab Four, who were touring the U.S. at the time, met Presley at his Bel Air mansion, where he was sitting on a couch, watching TV while playing a bass guitar, according to "The Beatles Anthology."
"That was the great thing for me," Paul McCartney said. "That he was into the bass. So there I was, 'Well, let me show you a thing or two, El ...' Suddenly, he was a mate."
The Beatles played pool with some of Elvis' friends and eventually met his wife, Priscilla. (John Lennon said he and Elvis jammed a bit, according to the other Beatles.)
Years later, Presley tried to get the Beatles banished from America, telling President Richard Nixon that the Beatles were un-American drug users.
"I felt a bit betrayed by that," McCartney said.
The teen idol from the late '50s and early '60s was on the road when his manager told him Presley wanted to meet him. Shortly afterward, Fabian told Goldmine, Elvis came up to his hotel room.
The two joked around a bit, then Presley told Fabian he was learning karate.
"I had four other guys in the room with me," Fabian recalled. "Elvis said, 'Have your four guys surround me. I want to practice my karate."
The men surrounded Presley, Fabian said, and Elvis "knocked them all on their ass."
Presley didn't walk away completely unscathed: During the demonstration, he ripped his trousers.
"I gave him a pair of my pants to wear home," Fabian said.
In 1969, the Beach Boys and Elvis were recording in the same location. So Wilson decided to visit Presley, who for unknown reasons, called him "Duke."
"So I figured okay, Elvis is like me, a joker, so I'm going to play a little joke on him," Wilson told Alex Simon for The Hollywood Interview.
Knowing that Presley was a black belt, Wilson faked a karate chop and kick at him -- both of which Presley easily blocked. Wilson laughed, but Presley didn't.
"Hey, Duke, don't do that," he said.
"Hey, Man, I'm just kidding around," Wilson replied.
The two then talked about music -- including the Beach Boys song "Good Vibrations" -- for a while before Wilson decided to throw another karate chop.
Presley backed up in his chair, said, "I'm a little worried about you, Duke," and then left the building.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Jones was at Paramount Studios, talking about a song for a film, when he heard that Presley was there and wanted to meet him.
"I said, 'My God, I didn't know that he knew that I even existed,' because it was my first year," Jones told Spinner. "I went on set and he was there filming and then he stops for a minute and is walking towards me, and I had a ballad out at the time called 'With These Hands' and there comes Elvis Presley singing 'With These Hands' walking towards me. It was like a dream."
The two became friends, and Presley later asked Jones for advice on how to go out on the town without being spotted.
"I told him, 'Elvis, you aren't exactly doing yourself any favors going everywhere in that white suit and dark sunglasses, with three big fellas in front of you going, 'Out of the way, Elvis is coming," Jones told the Western Mail.
Noone's group, Herman's Hermits, had just finished a tour of America and were set to return to England the next day when Colonel Tom Parker, Presley's manager, called to say Elvis wanted to meet them. So they changed their tickets and went to meet Presley on the film set for "Paradise Hawaiian Style."
Noone, who began interviewing celebrities as his own fame was fledgling, asked Parker if he could interview Presley.
"I met Colonel Parker in Honolulu and said I wanted to interview Elvis 'because I'm the biggest star in the world after him,'" Noone told the Palm Beach Post. "I said, 'We're playing the Hula Bowl tonight.' He asked how many tickets we sold. I said, '100,000.' He said, 'You can interview him.'"
Presley arrived in a roar, leading a pack of 15 Harley Davidson motorcycles locked in an arrow formation.
Noone's questions were fairly uninspired, asking Presley things like, "What's your favorite group, after the Beatles?"
To that, Presley joked, "I would say your group -- the Rolling Stones."
It shouldn't be too surprising that Houston met Presley since her mother, Cissy Houston, was once one of Presley's back-up singers.
Three months before her death, Houston told "Access Hollywood" she encountered Presley as a child with a group of people backstage after a show.
"He just walked into the room with his mink and his glasses on," she said. "You don't say anything -- you just look. It was one of those moments I won't forget as a kid ... He was amazing to look at. To be in his presence was awesome."
In 1974, when Jackson was 16 and still a member of the Jackson Five, Presley would take his daughter, Lisa Marie -- then 6 -- to see them perform at the MGM Grand Hotel in Vegas, where they had a regular gig, according to Ebony.
During the shows, Lisa Marie and Elvis sat in the front row, surrounded by bodyguards. Afterward, Presley would take his daughter backstage to meet the group, not knowing that one day his daughter would marry its lead singer.
During their brief tabloid marriage, Jackson reportedly begged Lisa Marie to join him in a séance to reach her late father.
Before they officially met, Presley would don a disguise and attend Brown's shows, according to Brown's book James Brown: The Godfather of Soul, arriving late and leaving early to avoid detection.
They finally did meet at a party Presley threw at the Continental Hyatt Hotel in Hollywood. Brown wrote that the two talked for hours, and after they kicked everyone out, he and Presley sang gospel songs, including "Old Jonah" and "Old Blind Barnabas."
"All the ones I'd been singing since I was little," Brown recalled. "He knew the harmonies, too. That's how we communicated -- by singing jubilee, the real upbeat kind of gospel."
The two would remain friends until Presley's death.