On December 31, 1970 Paul McCartney filed a legal suit against his bandmates John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr to formally dissolve The Beatles. While the news was heartbreaking for millions of devoted fans of Liverpool’s ‘Fab Four’, one man sensed an opportunity: when The Beatles were no officially defunct, Elvis Presley hoped to recruit John, Paul, George and Ringo as his Vegas backing band.
This rather ambitious, some might say ridiculous, notion was revealed by legendary Welsh singer Tom Jones, in a recent conversation with popular US podcaster Marc Maron. In 1970 Jones and Presley both had residencies in Las Vegas, and Jones remembers Presley approaching him to seek clarification on the shock news.
“Elvis says to me, ‘Is that right? The Beatles have split up?’,” Jones recalls. “I said, ‘Yeah’. And he said, ‘Wow, what a shame.’ I said, ‘Yeah, they’ve done some great music.’ He said, ‘Oh no, I’m not talking about that… I thought it would be great if we had them as our backing band. Wouldn’t it be great to do a show and have The Beatles play for us, you do some of your songs, I do some of my songs.’ And I said, ‘I don’t know whether that would happen, even if they were still together’.”
In a wide-ranging and free-wheeling conversation with Maron for the WTF podcast, Jones also reveals that guitar hero Eric Clapton might have joined his backing band if Cream hadn’t taken off quickly.
“In London, the ’60s, you knew you were in the middle of it,” says Jones. “When The Beatles kicked the door down we thought, ‘We’re in it, right there, with hit records. We’d hang out in different clubs all together. Eric Clapton, I remember talking to him outside a club, and he said, ‘Look, I’ve put this band together and we’re gonna put a record out, Cream. The first one didn’t make it, if the second one don’t, I’ll play guitar for you. I said, ‘Sure.’”
You can listen to the full conversation between Jones and Maron below:
Tom Jones’ new album, Surrounded By Time, is put now via BMG.