Elvis Presley: Were the King and Rat Pack Member Frank Sinatra Friends?

by Matthew Wilson

Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra were both titans of their respective genres. But did the King and Sinatra actually know each other?

Presley and Sinatra both performed during the same era, with Sinatra starting a decade prior. The two started off as rivals before becoming uneasy acquaintances and eventually good friends. Their relationship wasn’t helped by Sinatra’s initial war on rock ‘n’ roll. Perhaps, seeing the genre as a threat to his own career, Sinatra denounced it publicly.

“Rock and roll smells phony and false. It is sung and written for the most part by cretinous goons,” Sinatra said in 1957, according to Express. “It manages to be the martial music of every sideburned delinquent on the face of the earth…[It] is the most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear.”

So how did Sinatra and Presley end up burying the hatchet? Fans can thank the U.S. Army and Sinatra’s daughter Nancy. In the 1960s, Nancy met Presley as he returned to the U.S. from serving in the military. Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker, fearing Presley lost favor with younger crowds, wanted to appeal to Sinatra’s generation.

Both Nancy and Presley ended up performing together in 1960. Later, on his daughter’s advice, Sinatra arranged “The Frank Sinatra Timex Show: Welcome Home Elvis.” It featured the two titans singing together for the first time.

Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra Become Friends

As the saying goes, that was the start of a beautiful friendship between the two. Sinatra and Presley stayed friends for the next two decades of Presley’s life. Sinatra even called Presley when the latter ended up in the hospital.

“When I called the hospital in Memphis, the girl on the switchboard asked, ‘Who’s calling?’ and when I replied, ‘Frank Sinatra’ I fully expected her to say, ‘Oh, yeah, and I’m the Queen of England’ or some such dumb line. But she must have recognized my voice because, a few seconds later, Elvis came on the line,” Sinatra reportedly said. “I told him he’s got to look after himself and quit fooling around. He’s too young to die, and I told him so.”

But Sinatra’s words ended up being prophetic. Presley passed away on August 16, 1977, shocking the music world. His death weighed heavily on Sinatra who lost a dear friend.

“There have been many accolades uttered about Elvis’ talent and performances through the years, all of which I agree with wholeheartedly,” Sinatra said. “I shall miss him dearly as a friend. He was a warm, considerate, and generous man.”