US & World

What Elvis and Nixon talked about

President Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley.
President Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley.
Oliver F. Atkins, National Archives collection

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The most requested item at the National Archives is the 1970 photograph of Elvis Presley shaking hands with Richard Nixon at the White House. Ever wonder what they talked about?

Elvis Presley wanted to meet with President Nixon.

Longtime friend and music producer Jerry Schilling says Elvis was a very patriotic guy.

Schilling flew to Washington with Elvis. He says Elvis felt responsible "maybe more so than anybody — for rock and roll. And he felt that what was happening at this particular time in history was taking another turn. Maybe not as good influence by some on the youth as it had been and he felt a responsibility and he wanted to help out with that."

Presley suggested that the President deputize him as a "Federal Agent-at-Large" in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Nixon didn’t take him up on the offer, but he did pose for that famous picture.

Schilling says there was a "real human thing between the two of them. And as different as they were — totally — the real human bond was not that different."

And so the King and the President shook on it.