It all began at a party in Palm Springs, California in early December 1970.
Elvis’s reign as the “King of Rock and Roll” had been in decline since the “British Invasion”, (led by the Beatles), had jolted America’s pop music market in 1964.
Elvis was still an American idol and had begun a comeback in his singing career.
However, his energies in recent years had been devoted to making a series of forgettable Hollywood films.
In a conversation with Vice President Agnew, Elvis expressed his concern for what he felt were threats to American culture posed by, not only the British Invasion, but also the drug culture, hippies and the Black Panthers.
Elvis wanted to do something about it.
Three weeks later, Elvis, accompanied by two body guards, was bound for Washington, DC aboard an American Airlines flight.
He spent his time writing a letter to the President. “Dear Mr. President, First, I would like to introduce myself. I am Elvis Presley. . .” the rock star expressed his desire to be made a “Federal Agent at Large” in order to communicate with and report on what he felt were deleterious factions threatening America.
He believed his star-status would allow him a non-threatening entrance into the closed environment of these groups. A federal law appointment would give him credibility.
Elvis arrived at the White House gate on the morning of December 21 with his two body guards.
He carried some family photos and a commemorative World War II .45 caliber pistol (above) intended as gifts for the President.
He handed his letter to the guards and waited.
Elvis’s arrival ignited a flurry of activity among the White House staff.
White House aide Dwight Chapman sent a quick memo to his boss, Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman.
Chapman attached Elvis’s letter and advised that the President meet with the rock star.
Haldeman concurred and Elvis was scheduled to meet with Nixon at 12:30 that afternoon.