The story of how this letter made it into my arms is, by the best way, a wild journey in itself. About two days earlier than, Elvis had apparently fled his Graceland mansion in Memphis after a dispute together with his father, spouse and others over his funds, pushed himself to the airport and flown to Washington on his personal. After checking into his lodge, he went again to the airport and flew to Los Angeles to select up his longtime buddy Jerry Schilling. Elvis and Schilling took the red-eye again to Washington on the identical aircraft as Sen. George Murphy of California, who had acted in film musicals earlier than coming into politics. The 2 entertainers apparently hit it off on the aircraft, and which will have impressed Elvis to write down this observe in midair. They landed in Washington at daybreak, obtained right into a limousine and drove straight to the White Home, the place Elvis himself handed the observe to flabbergasted officers on the Northwest Gate.
I had no method of figuring out any of this on the time. In the intervening time, all I knew was that my day had been upended by what, it had begun to daybreak on me, was a real once-in-a-lifetime alternative to get two of the best-known dwelling Individuals into the identical room. I needed to suppose it by way of, in fact. Every thing may have political ramifications. However since Elvis had particularly requested to assist out with our anti-drug program, I referred to as the White Home staffer in control of that initiative: home coverage aide Egil “Bud” Krogh. I positioned a name to him at about 8:45 a.m.
“Bud,” I stated when he picked up the telephone. “Elvis Presley desires to see Nixon. What do you suppose?”
I ought to point out that Bud, too, was a constitution member of “The Brotherhood.” Naturally he instantly thought I used to be placing him on. It didn’t assist that Henry Cashen—who clearly determined this was far more enjoyable than no matter was ready again at his desk—was nonetheless in my workplace and was chiming in on the decision. Bud figured we have been each in on it. Ultimately, I used to be capable of persuade him that this was for actual. He thought of it for a second and stated: “I believe he ought to come back in.”
At this level, it formally grew to become my drawback. A part of my job was to write down a brief memo offering the rationale for every requested assembly with Nixon to be authorised by the president’s chief of workers and “gatekeeper,” Bob Haldeman. I really useful to him that we put this assembly collectively, because it may gain advantage our anti-drug efforts. If the president desires to satisfy with some brilliant younger folks outdoors of the federal government, I recommended, then who can be higher than Elvis Presley?
It was removed from assured that Haldeman would approve this request, or even when he did, that Nixon would in the end comply with it. Nixon was a really buttoned-down, critical man. His favourite exercise, if he discovered himself with any free time (which was uncommon), was to sit down down with a authorized pad and write, composing lengthy memos about his present ideas on urgent points international and home. He actually knew who Elvis was, however you in all probability couldn’t name him a “fan.” I cherished the president, and believed in him, however I used to be 30 years previous myself and was nicely conscious of his popularity amongst my era as a “sq..”
On the similar time, Nixon by no means stopped making political calculations. He was at all times pondering of how to enhance his base of help. He genuinely needed to have the ability to join with youthful folks and felt annoyed that he couldn’t. He had even appeared—very briefly—on the comedy present Rowan & Martin’s Chortle-In in 1968 in a bid to indicate an inkling of humor. Maybe assembly with Elvis would assist his picture.
One other counterpoint, although, was the lingering suspicion of Elvis held by many, not by people my age, however in Nixon’s older, extra conservative base. This made it a political concern. His early tv appearances within the mid-Fifties had led to outrage over what was regarded as the frenzied tempo of his rock-and-roll and the perceived lasciviousness of his gyrating hips. Although a lot had modified between his tv debut in 1956 and 1970, many older Individuals nonetheless noticed Elvis as a lothario and even as a hippie—even supposing he denounced hippies in his letter. Or, what if this was all some type of stunt calculated by this bad-boy rocker to make Nixon look silly?
In the end, although, I suspected the 2 males may need extra in widespread than anybody thought. That they had each served their nation, in any case. Nixon had been a younger Naval officer within the Pacific throughout World Struggle II. Elvis had been eligible for the draft and was stationed in Germany the place, as a substitute of getting a comfortable job enjoying music to entertain his fellow troops, he labored exhausting and did his job like each different soldier. And I had a sense that what Elvis wrote about his love for his nation would join with the president.
At first look, Haldeman’s reply was not encouraging. The place I had talked about Presley for instance of the brilliant younger folks Nixon must be assembly with, Bob had added the notation: “You should be kidding.” Nonetheless, on the very backside, he signed off on the “approval” line together with his attribute “H” preliminary. Then he took the memo in to Nixon himself, and to everybody’s shock Nixon thought it was an awesome concept.
“Organize for him to come back in,” Haldeman advised me. Then the ever vigilant chief of workers added, “Have Bud verify him out first.”
This had all occurred over the course of a few hours after my first name to Bud Krogh at 8:45. Elvis and his two mates and assistants—he and Schilling had been joined by bodyguard Sonny West, who flew from Memphis to satisfy them—had gone again to the Lodge Washington. Bud referred to as them first and invited them to satisfy with him in his workplace within the Previous Govt Workplace Constructing, as a ultimate verify to ensure this wasn’t all some type of elaborate set-up. If all went nicely, Bud would take Elvis over to the West Wing to satisfy with Nixon.
Bud was cautious about having a gathering with the King of Rock-and-Roll plopped into his lap with out warning. He grew to become much more cautious when he obtained a name from the Secret Service saying Elvis had arrived to satisfy with him—and was carrying a gun.
They meant this actually. Elvis had beneath his arm a fantastic boxed commemorative .45 automated pistol, full with seven bullets lined up subsequent to the gun within the body, which he needed to current as a present to the president. Elvis favored weapons. He collected them. He had traveled from Los Angeles to Washington with three hid handguns of his personal (for which he had the required permits), however, as Schilling remembered later, had correctly elected to go away these in his limousine for his White Home go to. The boxed .45 had, in line with Schilling, been plucked by Elvis off the desk of his Los Angeles house with no phrase as they have been heading out the door.
Just a few phrases between Bud and the Secret Service officers defused the scenario, and Elvis may herald his gun. Bud reported that the preliminary assembly went nicely, that Presley was utterly real and echoed the themes from his letter about wanting to assist his nation and do one thing concerning the drug drawback. We scheduled the Oval Workplace assembly for 11:45 a.m.
When Elvis confirmed up, he was sporting a purple velvet go well with, a belt with a boxing championship-style buckle, a jacket draped over his shoulders and amber-tinted sun shades. No person had ever seen anybody arrive on the White Home dressed fairly like that. Often when guests arrived to see the president, Steve Bull, Nixon’s private aide, would have them wait within the Roosevelt Room or Cupboard Room till the president was prepared for them. However this time Steve escorted Elvis and Bud straight into the Oval Workplace whereas his mates Jerry and Sonny stayed within the Roosevelt Room. Bud was the scribe taking cautious notes of your entire occasion and dialog.