President Nixon told Elvis Presley to spy on John Lennon, says music presenter Bob Harris

Harris claims it was ‘hate at first sight’ between the two musicians when they met in 1965

Annabel Nugent
Monday 20 September 2021 12:04
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President Nixon asked Elvis Presley to spy on John Lennon when he was living in New York, music presenter Bob Harris has alleged.

Harris – who interviewed Lennon on his BBC show The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975 – claimed that Nixon “loathed” the Beatles member over his criticism of the Vietnam war.

The presenter claimed that former US president Richard Nixon had instructed Presley to monitor Lennon in New York during the Seventies.

Harris shared his claims during a recent appearance on the Rockonteaurs podcast, as per The Times.

“It sounded like it was almost a figment of [Lennon’s] imagination when he was saying, ‘My phone was tapped, I get followed everywhere,’ but it was true. He really did,” he said.

“Nixon was out to get him and that’s why John was stuck in New York, or stuck in the States: he knew, were he to come back to the UK, he’d never get back into America again. Not while Nixon was in the White House.”

The 75-year-old continued: “Nixon was a great friend of Elvis and vice versa. Nixon had [asked] Elvis to gather as much information about John Lennon as he possibly could.”

Harris went on to say that it was “hate at first sight” between Lennon and Presley when the two musicians met in Los Angeles in 1965, adding that their relationship evolved into a “resentful” rivalry.

A day in the life: John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney in the studio

“For John, it was a very disillusioning moment because he loved Elvis’s records, so to discover he was a right-wing southern bigot was a big shock,” said Harris.

“Equally, Elvis saw Lennon as being this upstart Liverpuddlian know-it-all who’d taken his crown. He usurped Elvis and he was resentful as hell.”

The Independent has contacted a representative of Presley’s estate for comment.

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