Who Was Bigger: Elvis or The Beatles? – Part 2
The greatest thing that probably happened to the myth of The Beatles was them splitting up, at least according to Lennon in 1980. He believed that they created something bigger by staying apart than if they’d have reunited.
The Beatles split up in 1970 when each of the four members were 30 or under. In the eyes of the public, this was far too early to end it all and they wanted a reunion for the Fab Four. Similarly, Elvis died too young at just 42, with his fans wondering what he could have gone on to accomplish in the next three decades. Possibly the fact that both musical phenomenons had gone too soon has gone some way towards preserving their long-lasting legacies many decades after the end of their respective careers. Lennon said in the 70’s that it’s nice that the impression that they left had people wanting more and that that’s the best way to end things.
The Beatles meet the King
On the 27th of August 1965, one of the most famous rock ’n’ roll get-togethers took place when Elvis and The Beatles met face-to-face at the former’s Beverly Hills home. There were numerous stories about the meeting that circulated in later years that suggested that the meeting didn’t go well and that one of the parties was disappointed. However, there were also reports to the contrary. For example, Elvis had allegedly told Sonny West that the meeting went better than he’d expected and that there were some good times had. Back to the famous meeting…it began with some awkward small talk, but it later turned into what was perhaps an inevitable jam session. Unfortunately, no photographs or recordings of the event exist. Prior to the jam session, Lennon attempted to break the ice by asking Elvis a series of questions like why he was singing soundtrack music as opposed to rock ’n’ roll, half-joking while still remaining somewhat serious. Elvis laughed off the comment, but the awkwardness remained until Elvis had guitars brought into the room.
They played a number of rock ’n’ roll classic, and, of course, some of their own music. The meeting was clearly over when Colonel Parker brought in doggie bags with pressings of Elvis’ hits for each of them.While when reflecting on the meeting, they were happy they’d met their hero, they were initially underwhelmed, according to Beatles’ press officer Tony Barrow. Lennon had allegedly said that the event was about as exciting as if they had met Engelbert Humperdink.
Barrow said that when The Beatles visited America, it was like going to the Holy Land and that Elvis was their No. 1 idol. It just didn’t seem to meet the expectations of the Fab Four; at the time, at least. The relationship between the two didn’t end there, however. After that meeting, and in fact, even before, they communicated in numerous ways, both in personal and professional terms.