"Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."

(Leonard Bernstein)


"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)


"For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."

(Professor Gilbert B. Rodman)


"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)


"Absolute id crashed into absolute superego...as the uptightset man in America shook hands with just about the loosest."

(Mark Feeney on the 'Elvis meets Nixon' meeting)


"Elvis is everywhere"

(Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper)


"...especially in the South, they talk about Elvis and Jesus in the same breath"

(Michael Ventura, LA Weekly)


"The image is one thing and the human being is another...it's very hard to live up to an image"


(Elvis Presley, Madison Square Garden press conference, 1972)


"Elvis was a major hero of mine. I was actually stupid enough to believe that having the same birthday as him actually meant something"

(David Bowie)


"No-one, but no-one, is his equal, or ever will be. He was, and is supreme"

(Mick Jagger)


"I wasn't just a fan, I was his brother...there'll never be another like that soul brother"

(Soul legend, James Brown)


"Before Elvis there was nothing!"

(John Lennon)

















































































































































































































































































'Meeting Elvis' & 'Priscilla, when The King found his Queen'

- Spotlight on Elvis and Derek Johnson

British journalist Derek Johnson is the former news editor of the New Musical Express. Johnson became a good friend of Elvis’, not only staying with him while he was based in Germany but also getting personal invitations to stay at Graceland. Even towards the end of his life, Elvis confided in Johnson and made some very disturbing remarks about how sad his life had become.

Meeting Elvis

I started to freelance for the NME in 1956 and joined the staff in 1957. My bag was to write about people who were hot at the time, British artistes mostly. I was friends with Billy Fury, Cliff Richard and his group the Drifters.
However no matter how big the English acts might have been here, they were nothing compared to Elvis, who was always The King. I met him first when I was sent out to his army base in Germany. Elvis knew which side his bread was peanut-buttered and wanted to look good in the NME.

He had a mansion a few miles away from the camp, where he entertained all the `starlets' and strippers. He occasionally slept in his room at the camp so that he could have some privacy. We sat talking there till the early hours. He said, "You'll never get a cab now, you'd better hunk down here, there's a spare cot in the comer." l must be the only journalist to have slept with Elvis!

In the morning he had an enormous breakfast: a huge T-bone steak with all the trimmings. Then he challenged me to a game of pool. He'd had two pool tables at Graceland and was used to beating everyone. He took me back to the mansion to meet his father - his mother was dead by then. Major Beaulieu arrived with his daughter Priscilla and they disappeared upstairs.

Some time later, he phoned me at the NME and told me he'd be leaving camp in a couple of days' time and his plane would be stopping off at Prestwick to refuel. I went there to meet him. It was the first and only time Elvis ever set foot on British soil. He said he'd be back to play some UK dates, but when he got back to the US, the Colonel put the kibosh on that [Colonel Tom Parker never had a passport and Elvis never toured outside the USA]. A few years later, I went out to the US and stayed at Graceland on a personal visit - nothing to do with the NME; all my subsequent visits were by Elvis' personal invitation. He said he enjoyed my company. I asked him about the Rolling Stones. He said, "As much as I like the Beatles, these boys are much more in sync with today's market."

Priscilla - When The King Found His Queen

I first heard about Priscilla after I arrived to interview Elvis at Friedberg army base in Germany early in 1960. We chatted long into the night, during which I asked, "How's your love life, Elvis''. He chuckled and replied, "Well there's no shortage of offers from the German girls, but they're just ships that pass in the night. Right now I'm fascinated by this American teenager, Priscilla. She's over here because her dad's based not far from here".

He told me about their meeting. "She simply smiled, shook hands and said, ‘A pleasure to meet you Elvis,’ then remarked, ‘Mmm, such a pity that they cut off your sideburns.’ From that moment on, I was hooked, and she's been coming to visit for around two months now. She's only 14, but looks older and treats me like an ordinary guy. She can talk about almost anything. She's good at checkers and cards, too. It's just great to have someone of my own nationality who's so bright and a great friend."

The next day we drove over to Elvis' off-base house in Bad Nauheim. Priscilla arrived shortly afterwards. "Hi, old buddy," she laughed as Elvis gave her a kiss on the cheek and introduced me. Elvis was obviously smitten.

I met the couple again in 1963 and the next year I broached with Priscilla the rumours about Elvis' flings with his leading ladies. "Well you know what the press is," she said. "They can whip anything into a sensation. Movie stars have a lot of spare time on location, and they make friends with their co-stars, dinner dates, going swimming, maybe a little flirtation. But that doesn't mean they're into an affair. I know Elvis wouldn't cheat on me, because he loves me."

Some months later I visited Elvis on a film set in Los Angeles and sought his point of view. "It's common practice for co-stars in a picture to strike up a friendship," he assured me. "We're just good friends, like you and me." So I shot back with, "Yes, but we don't sleep together." He laughed, then changed the subject.

In late 1966 Elvis told me, "I confess that after a lengthy infatuation with Priscilla, I have now found true love with her. Parker has been on at me for some months to get married because it would be good for my image, and that’s been one of the few things I've ever agreed with him."

They married on May Day 1967 in Las Vegas, and after a honeymoon he organised a second reception in Palm Springs. Priscilla used her now wifely prowess to have a go at Parker for mishandling her husband's career. "If Elvis can't pick up the courage to tell Parker what he thinks of him, then I'm going to do it for him, here and now," she said to me. After she'd delivered her tirade, she told Elvis what she'd done. He looked a bit bemused, then slowly a grin spread across his face. He gave her a kiss and said, "Good gal, now it's my turn."

What precisely they told him isn't known, but not long after, Parker announced that Elvis would star in his first TV spectacular and, following Presley's instructions, he didn't book any live work for Elvis until 1969, so that the lovers could have plenty of time together.

The last time I saw Elvis was 15 months before his death. He and Priscilla had divorced in 1973. "I've made such a mess of my life," he told me. "and it's largely down to my manager. Now Priscilla and my daughter have gone, Parker's still a louse and I'm a wreck. There's not much left in life for me now."

Then he made a startling revelation ... "There have been two or three occasions when I've considered taking an overdose, but I thought that was wrong, so I decided to let nature take its course."
Nature did just that on 16 August 1977.

Derek Johnson is the former news editor of New Musical Express

British Journalist Derek Johnson dies April 22 2009: Derek Johnson who worked on the British music publication NME from 1957-86, has passed away aged 81. Johnson began contributing to NME shortly after its launch in 1952 and joined the staff full-time in 1957, leaving his post as programming director at Radio Luxembourg to do so. He worked as Features Editor and News Editor, writing prolifically for all sections of the paper. In 1960 he flew to Germany to interview Elvis Presley. The two men became friends and he interviewed Presley on several further occasions, even staying, on the singer's invitation, at Graceland.

Johnson eventually left NME in 1986 to run his own news service. He was born on January 17, 1928 in London and died on April 22 2009 in Exeter.

Click here to comment on this article

Spotlight by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN - Updated April 2009.

Spotlight researched by Piers Beagley - EIN copyright 2005.
‘Meeting Elvis’ – from the excellent book, ‘Stoned’ by Andrew Loog Oldham.
‘Priscilla’ – from May 2005 Radio Times.




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"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"

(Dr. Gary Enders)


" Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"



"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"

(humorist Dave Barry)


"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"

(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")


"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"

(Nick Tosches)


"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"

(Carl Perkins)


"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew I wasn't going to work for anybody...hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"

(Bob Dylan)


"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"

(Sir Paul McCartney)