Elvis Presley helped spark the Beatles’ ‘Love’: ‘I’d been getting a little bit jealous’

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John Lennon famously said that without Elvis Presley there’d have been no Beatles. Less well known is that the King — who would have been 80 today — was still impacting the group some 25 years after Lennon’s untimely death.

It seems Paul McCartney was listening, and closely, when a Junkie XL remix of Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation” topped the charts in nine different countries back in 2002. “I’d been getting a little bit jealous,” McCartney tells Steven Van Zandt. “I was seeing remixes of, like, Elvis’ things coming out — and I was thinking: ‘That sounds good, man.’ You know, it’s still Elvis, but they’ve put a new beat behind it. I thought: ‘I kind of like that.'”

To this point, however, McCartney didn’t have a ready excuse for such an Elvis Presley-style reexamination of the Beatles’ music. Then, a few years later, he was approached about doing a Fab Four-themed Cirque du Soleil production, which eventually became 2006’s Love. McCartney, no doubt still remembering Elvis Presley, says he jumped at the chance to oversee a series of remixes — hand picking Beatles producer George Martin’s son Giles to do the work.

“I remember me and Ringo [Starr], saying to Giles: ‘Look, don’t be frightened,’ because everybody is a little frightened to mess with Beatles stuff,” McCartney says. The flamboyance of Cirque du Soleil, and the setting at the legendary Mirage, he adds, inspired them too.

“I thought: ‘You know what? There’s going to be acrobats flying about everywhere. It’s going to be in Las Vegas. It’s a crazy idea for a show, anyway. It’s going to be very surreal. This might be the first opportunity we’ve got to mess with Beatles stuff,'” McCartney says. “So, we were encouraging Giles to mash it up. … Anybody who’s a purist is gonna worry about it, so you say: ‘Go back to the original records. They’re there anyway.’ But for the show, we encouraged him to mash it — and, I must say, he took the ball and ran with it.”

McCartney has since worked with the younger Martin on his 2013 release New (on which Giles produced or co-produced a half dozen tracks including “On My Way to Work”), as well as McCartney’s current single — a video game-themed track titled “Destiny.” Turns out, it all started (once again) with Elvis Presley.

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  • soulman

    Interesting reading. I didn’t know Elvis’ remix hit Paul’s radar back then. Thanks for sharing.

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