If Elvis Presley was alive today he may have been a D.A.R.E spokesperson.
In fact, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll had managed to convince President Richard Nixon to give him a badge to mark him as an official narcotics agent. The image of Nixon and Presley shaking hands in the Oval Office is a famous pop culture snapshot. There was even a comedy film called “Elvis Meets Nixon” created in 1997 documenting the strange occurrence in history. And again in 2016 with “Elvis & Nixon.”
There is something fascinating to people about the photo. A rock ‘n’ roll icon and an American president being buddy-buddy seems contradictory.
Elvis Presley Wanted a Badge
So how did a rowdy rock and roll icon meet the president and become a narcotics agent?
According to Smithsonian Magazine, his family had been upset with Elvis because of his shopping habits. Throughout his life, Presley had always given people elaborate gifts as a sign of love and appreciation. When he passed away his spending habits had actually left his Graceland estate with debt.
That Christmas, Presley had spent over $100,000 on handguns and 10 Mercedes-Benzes. He got frustrated by his family’s frustration and flew to Washington. He then flew to Los Angeles. It was at this point something was heavily weighing on Elvis. In addition to the guns and police badges he traveled with, Presley had been thinking about how he could get an official Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge. He then flew back to the capital and drafted a letter to the president on the way.
Part of it read, “Sir, I can and will be of any service that I can to help the country out. I would love to meet you … I will be here for as long as it takes to get the credentials of a federal agent.” According to Biography.com, it was no small letter. Presley had gone on for six whole pages about becoming a “federal agent at large” to help counter “drug culture, the hippie elements.”
His reasoning may not have been as pure as he made it out to be. Priscilla Presley wrote in her memoir that the badge was a representation of “ultimate power” in his eyes. He wanted to have it so he could travel the country wearing guns and carrying drugs.
Presley Meets President Nixon
Elvis Presley arrived in Washington, D.C. with his longtime friend and aide, Jerry Schilling in 1970. The meeting was scheduled. This is partly because the letter first went to Egil “Bud” Krogh, a Nixon aide and Elvis fan. He persuaded others into arranging the meeting.
The two met and immediately bonded. He had even brought the president an engraved pistol as a gift. Presley had brought up the Beatles and called them “anti-American.” John Lennon would have been crushed to learn that. He called The King a major inspiration and was a huge fan. Elvis told the president he was studying drug culture and wanted to help. He eventually got that badge he had been so obsessed with.
The two were referencing the wave of counterculture that had resonated with young people across the nation. Ironically, his legendary career played a part in some of the rebellious attitude of that era.
While he got his badge, Elvis Presley didn’t quite understand the purpose of it. The badge was not a real one, rather it was an honorary statement. However, Presley would slap a siren on his car and pull people over or go to accidents to offer assistance. He would often pull women over in particular to give them his autograph.