Friday, September 19th, 2014
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1970 / Washington, DC

Elvis Presley is On Your Side



Memorandum for: The President’s File, Richard M. Nixon
Subject: Meeting with Elvis Presley, Monday, 12:30 p.m.

The meeting opened with pictures taken of the president and Elvis Presley.

Presley immediately began showing the president his law-enforcement paraphernalia, including badges from police departments in California, Colorado, and Tennessee. Presley indicated he had been playing Las Vegas, and the president indicated he was aware of how difficult it is to perform in Vegas.

The president mentioned that he thought Presley could reach young people, and that it was important for Presley to retain his credibility. Presley responded that he did his thing by “just singing.” He said that he could not get to the kids if he made a speech on the stage, that he had to reach them his own way. The president nodded in agreement.

Presley indicated that he thought the Beatles had been a real force for anti-American spirit. He said that the Beatles came to this country, made their money, and then returned to England, where they promoted an anti-American theme. The president nodded in agreement and expressed some surprise. The president then indicated that those who use drugs are also those in the vanguard of anti-American protest. Violence, drug usage, dissent, protest all seem to merge in generally the same group of young people.

Presley indicated to the president in a very emotional manner that he was “on your side.” Presley kept repeating that he wanted to be helpful, that he wanted to restore some respect for the flag, which was being lost. He mentioned that he was just a poor boy from Tennessee who had gotten a lot from his country, which in some way he wanted to repay. He also mentioned he has been studying communist brainwashing and the drug culture for over ten years. He mentioned that he knew a lot about this and was accepted by the hippies. He said he could go right into a group of young people or hippies and be accepted, which he felt could be helpful to him in his drug drive. The president indicated again his concern that Presley retain his credibility.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Presley again told the president how much he supported him, and then, in a surprising, spontaneous gesture, put his left arm around the president and hugged him.

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About the Text

From a Presidential memo by Bud Krogh. The meeting took place after Elvis Presley sent Richard Nixon a letter in which he called the president “one of the Top Ten Outstanding Men of America” and requested to be made a “Federal Agent at Large.” Seven years later at the age of forty-two, the King of Rock and Roll died from a drug-related heart attack.

Art is a jealous mistress, and if a man have a genius for painting, poetry, music, architecture, or philosophy, he makes a bad husband and an ill provider.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1860
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