Oddly Enough

Elvis' secret visit revealed, 50 years on

LONDON (Reuters) - Rock’n’Roll legend Elvis Presley did in fact visit Britain, it was revealed on Tuesday, with a secret visit to London accompanied by another rocker.

Elvis fans Bruce and Vickie Lancaster of Ripley, Tennessee, watch an Elvis Presley concert on a screen in the plaza, at the Presley's Graceland home in Memphis, Tennessee, in this August 15, 2002 file photo. REUTERS/Tami Chappell/Files

For more than half a century it was generally accepted the “King” only made a fleeting transit visit to Scotland in 1960 -- much to the disappointment of his legion of UK fans.

But theatre producer Bill Kenwright has revealed in a radio interview that Presley, then 23, managed to go sightseeing in London with Cockney singer Tommy Steele.

The pair’s trip, understood to have taken place in 1958, included visits to the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace, Kenwright said. Presley did not perform.

Kenwright, who has known Steele for decades, inadvertently revealed the secret trip in a pre-recorded Radio 2 interview on Ken Bruce’s show Tracks Of My Years.

At the time Presley was so popular he needed military guards to control crowds whenever he made a public appearance while Steele was billed as his British equivalent.

Steele, now 71, from Woking in Surrey, was discreet when asked on Tuesday to confirm the meeting.

“What actually happened many years ago is something secret and memorable,” he told the Daily Mail.

“It was an event shared by two young men sharing the same love of their music and the same thrill of achieving something unimaginable.

“I swore never to divulge publicly what took place and I regret that it has found some way of ‘getting into the light’.

“I can only hope he (Presley) can forgive me.”

Kenwright, 62, said he accidentally revealed the secret.

“It’s quite something, isn’t it -- the thought of them wandering around London together,” he later told the newspaper.

“But the impression I got was that they never got out of the car. It was more like, ‘There’s Buckingham Palace... there’s the Houses of Parliament’.

“Tommy is a very private person who doesn’t go into the past. It’s only me who makes him talk about it.”

Elvis’ only documented visit to Britain was in brief stopover in Ayrshire when his plane landed at Prestwick airport to refuel.

Photographs show that he was accompanied by his soon-to-be wife, teenage sweetheart Priscilla.

Editing by Stephen Addison