Elvis Presley: Queen Drummer Roger Taylor Had an Interesting Take on the King of Rock and Roll

by Josh Lanier
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Queen Drummer Roger Taylor is the next in a long line of 1960s’ and 70s’ rockers who say Elvis Presley’s influence on rock and roll was overblown. Sure, his swagger on stage, his presence behind the mic, his ability to mesmerize a crowd, revolutionized rock and roll forever. But that was during The King’s early years, Taylor said.

After Elvis was drafted into the military in 1958 and served two years, Taylor says Elvis Presley returned changed.

“I think after Elvis went in the army, he didn’t influence [Queen] at all. In fact, he became a sort of side paragraph. He didn’t really have a lot of relevance, I thought,” the Queen drummer told The Express.

“He was a rebel, but when he joined the Army, it all sort of disappeared into sh***y films and paying off his manager’s debts in Las Vegas.”

His take on Elvis Presley matches one of the few people who could rival The King in terms of rock and roll influence: John Lennon.

Lennon said at the time of Elvis’ death that The King died “when he went in the army. That’s when they killed him. The rest of it was just a living death.”

His fellow Beatle Paul McCartney explained in his 1996 biography that they felt Elvis had gone “establishment.”

“I always thought [his time in the military] ruined Elvis,” McCartney said.

“We liked Elvis’ freedom as a trucker, as a guy in jeans and swivelin’ hips. But [we] didn’t like him with the short haircut in the army calling everyone ‘sir.'”

McCartney cited songs such as “Hard-Headed Woman” as part of Elvis’ post-Army mistakes. “There’s a dreadful great big trombone right in the middle of it, and we thought, ‘What in hell has happened?’ It just seemed he’d gone establishment, and his records after that weren’t so good.”

Taylor, Lennon, and McCartney all said Little Richard was a bigger influence on their music.

Elvis Presley Spent Two Years in U.S. Army

On March 24, 1958, a day Elvis fan’s called “Black Monday,” The King reported for duty after the U.S. Army drafted him. His parents were with him at Graceland when he woke up early to report for duty. Sadly, this was the last time he’d see his mother in good health.

Elvis Presley served in two armored battalions during his time in the military. Stationed in Germany, Presley served with the Company A, 2d Medium Tank Battalion, 37th Armor division. This was Gen. George Patton’s old unit. He also worked at the battalion’s Headquarters Company at Friedberg in Germany.

He was granted leave later that year after learning his mother had been diagnosed with hepatitis. The Army granted him leave so he could be with her during her final days. She died on Aug. 16, 1958. He returned to Germany four weeks later.

Shortly after he returned, he met his future wife Priscilla, the 14-year-old daughter of a U.S. Air Force officer, who was also stationed in Germany.

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