April 6, 1968

Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas, Nv.


A full and exciting account of the meeting of TOM JONES and ELVIS PRESLEY in Las Vegas recently by former NME News Editor and now publicist CHRIS HUTCHINS,

who also reported the Beatles - Elvis meeting for NME.

MR. AND MRS. ELVIS PRESLEY made the 800-mile journey from Los Angeles to Las Vegas last Saturday to catch TOM JONES´ cabaret act at the Flamingo. They arrived with a party of eight friends and, after Tom´s performance, Elvis led the audience in a standing ovation. After the show, the Presleys went backstage and chatted with the British star for an hour. It was their second meeting. Our picture is one of the first ever taken showing Elvis smoking.

WHEN he went to see Tom Jones, Elvis wore a Carnaby Street-style dark blue jacket. For their meeting backstage afterwards Tom had changed from his stage suit into a brown polo-necked pullover and slacks.

"This is ridiculous" commented Presley. "You look American while I look like some-thing straight out of a London store."

With them is Priscilla, Elvis´ wife.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA. - This town is still talking about the explosive night America´s most legendary pop singer, Elvis Presley, came to see the world´s new super star, Britain´s Tom Jones!

Presley didn´t sneak into a seat at the back of the room when the lights were down and slip away unnoticed at the end of the performance. He didn´t even happen to be in the area at the time.

He travelled nearly four hundred miles from Los Angeles, walked to a table directly in front of the stage before the show started and, when the lights were still up, reacted just like the rest of the audience at Tom´s explosive act and stood up at the end to lead the audience in a standing ovation.


Then he went backstage to tell Jones: "Man, you are the GREATEST!" at the outset of an hour´s chat between the world´s two leading solo figures in pop.

I was there for the "New Musical Express" when the Beatles met Elvis nearly three years ago. But believe me that tense evening when the Liverpool four were guests at the American´s Bel Air home had NOTHING on this historic night when Presley joined the legion of U.S. stars who are flocking here to see the man all Britain should be proud of.

Tom Jones is the first British star Presley has been to see work and it was obvious from the conversation after-wards that the visit was no accident.

The first we knew of it was on the Saturday afternoon, when his right-hand man Joe Esposito telephoned me to ask if he could get a table for ten in Elvis´s name for the midnight show. It wasn´t easy - reservations for Jones´ show are like gold dust.

Extra tables and chairs were placed in the room to allow for the bulge.

At fifteen minutes to midnight Elvis, his wife Priscilla and eight of their friends walked through the Casino of the Flamingo hotel to the lounge and took their ringside seats.

I told Tom, who was still in his suite at the top of the building. "Great," he said almost casually, for nothing can excite or daunt him before a performance, "invite him round afterwards, I´d like to see him again."

The two had met fleetingly less than three years ago when Tom visited Presley on a Hollywood film set. Much different circumstances.

Meanwhile, back in the lounge, the air buzzed with excitement, Presley´s presence added to the anticipation of Jones´ performance made promise of an extra sensational night.

Tom stepped on to the stage to a tremendous reception and sang his opening numbers. From the "off" it was obvious that he was enjoying this show even more than most.

But it was in the first really up-tempo number "Don´t Fight It" that the action started and Jones the body slammed into action. I could see Presley slapping the table and waving his head in time with the strong beat. Several times during the song he turned to comment to Priscilla, a broad smile on his face.

Later in the act, Tom announced: "Ladies and gentlemen, we have in the audience tonight a man I have admired for many years, Mr. Elvis Presley."

The audience cheered and clapped as Elvis stood up to wave and take a bow. Then Tom said jokingly from the stage: "Okay, that´s enough - sit down," and everyone, including Elvis, laughed. Seconds later there was silence as Tom began the big ballad of his act "Danny Boy."

Everyone was cheering wildly as Tom sang his closing number "It´s Not Unusual" and he returned to the stage to encore with "Land Of A Thousand Dances," the wildest number he performs.


Women screamed their delight and men cheered as he gyrated from one side of the stage to the other. As the number reached its climax Presley stood up applauding and the rest of the audience got to its feet with him.

When the curtains had closed the atmosphere was electric. Elvis and his party made their way to the stage door entrance and I took them through to meet Tom who was still changing from his stage suit soaked in sweat.

Presley shook Tom´s hand on both of his and offered his praise and congratulations. Then he introduced his wife with the words "Priscilla here is a big Tom Jones fan" and he added, chuckling, "but I told her to cool it tonight!"

Priscilla told Tom: "I love your album `Tom Jones Live At The Talk Of The Town.´"

"Thank you," replied Tom. "We had a lot of fun making it."

Presley shook Tom´s hand on both of his and offered his praise and congratulations. Then he introduced his wife with the words "Priscilla here is a big Tom Jones fan" and he added, chuckling, "but I told her to cool it tonight!"

Priscilla told Tom: "I love your album `Tom Jones Live At The Talk Of The Town.´"

"Thank you," replied Tom. "We had a lot of fun making it."

"Say Tom," cut in Elvis, "You know, we should do a show together at either end of the stage with the Beatles backing us up in the middle."

"What´s wrong with the Squires and the Jordanaires?" quipped Tom.

The room by now was packed with the entourages of the two stars so Tom and Elvis moved into a smaller dressing room adjoining.

"You´ve lost a lot of weight," Tom told Elvis.

On a diet

"Too right I have, I´m on what they call a drinking man´s diet," replied Elvis, adding, "I put it on across the cheeks."

"With me it´s under the chin," said Tom.

Then they discussed song-writer Jerry Reed whose "Guitar Man" was Elvis´s most recent hit. "Glad you had a hit with that," said Tom. "I publish the song in Britain through my company, Valley Music."

"That ´Delilah´ is a great record, Tom - I see it was a smash hit in Britain," said Elvis.

"Yes, but I don´t know whether it will make the top here, it´s still in the thirties," replied Tom to which Elvis remarked; "Man, I want to make a prediction - it´ll be a smash here, too."

Presley talked frankly about the only cabaret he ever did in Vegas: "I was at the Frontier Hotel about ten years ago and I died a terrible death. When I came out with those hip movements (and here we had a demonstration of the way Elvis moved in his early days) - man - they just weren´t ready for me!"

Then Presley told Tom a touching story: "When your record ´Green Green Grass Of Home´ was issued here, the boys and I were on the road driving in our mobile home. Man, that record meant so much to us boys from Memphis we just sat there and cried."

"Then we called the radio station and asked them to play it again - they did, four times! We just sat there and sobbed our hearts out."

Later, when it was time for the Presley´s to go, Tom and I accompanied them via a rear exit to their car - an enormous long, low black Cadillac with darkened win-dows and a mass of aerials.

"You see all these aerials?" said Elvis. "Well, they don´t mean a thing - they ain´t connected to nothing!"

Moments later the two stars had parted company and the most memorable meeting in the history of pop was over. It was an evening during which Elvis let his hair down, openly enjoying the Jones performance and later talked openly backstage as he surprisingly joined Tom in a cigar and champagne.

But when you know Tom Jones you know a man in whose company you can´t fail to be like that.

Copyright: New Musical Express, April 19, 1968