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.
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.
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
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 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."
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.
Spotlight by Piers Beagley.
Spotlight researched by Piers Beagley - EIN copyright 2005.
"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"
"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"
"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"
"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"
(Sir Paul McCartney)