The King of Rock (Elvis Presley) and the King of Soul (James Brown) knew each other, respected each other, and were friendly with one another.
James Brown wrote several books one of which includes this quote about Elvis: “I wasn’t just a fan, I was his brother. He said I was good and I said he was good; we never argued about that. Elvis was a hard worker, dedicated, and God loved him … I love him and hope to see him in heaven. There’ll never be another like that soul brother”.
Back in 1966 Elvis went to a performance of Jackie Wilson and George Klein, Elvis’ friend dating back to his Humes High School days, introduced Elvis to James Brown. George Klein has invited James Brown to attend the show of Jackie Wilson and even set up private tables for James Brown, and his guest(s), and Elvis and Priscilla (who would be married the following year).
Interestingly in the same audience were members of; The Rolling Stones, Buffalo Springfield, and Van Morrison.
James, upon arriving first, said “Where is Elvis?” George Klein responded and began a brief conversation when Elvis and Priscilla arrived.
George offered James Brown the opportunity to meet Elvis and Priscilla after first asking Elvis if he wanted to meet James Brown (and Elvis said “yes”). Out of respect Elvis said “take me to James at his table to meet him”. The beginning of their friendship, as James Brown was deeply appreciative of the respect Elvis showed him by coming to his table and extending his hand to him publicly”.
Elvis had a mutual respect for James Brown and James Brown went to Graceland, which was quite an honor as Elvis did not like “Hollywood types” and wanted to keep Graceland a place of rest with close friends and family, numerous times.
On certain occasions, when he was close to Memphis, James Brown would call Graceland (one of the few who Elvis gave out his private telephone numbers at Graceland) trying to catch Elvis at home and come to see him. Often times Elvis and James Brown would spend the night and sing gospel songs for hours. .
When Elvis died James Brown was one of the celebrities who attended Elvis’ funeral. He was the only celebrity to be allowed to view Elvis, as the open casket was guarded by 3 men, by himself (for several minutes and was visibly saddened, and he paid his respects to Vernon and others.
George Klein recalled that when Elvis died “one of the first phone calls I remember receiving came from James Brown, who wanted to tell me how broken up he was over the news. He asked if he could come to the house during the private viewing. I checked with Priscilla to make sure it was all right, and late in the afternoon James came up to join us – the first of many major artists to pay their respects. ‘I remember being taken aback by how truly distraught James was. He sat motionless in the corner of the living room for a long while before joining the rest of the mourners in the den”. James Brown confirmed these events in his autobiography where he wrote, about Elvis’ death, “his death hit me very hard. When he died, I said, ‘That’s my friend, I have to go”.
Shortly after Elvis died, James Brown recorded Love Me Tender as the B-side of his hit record The Spank. Brown did this touching spoken intro “’I want to talk about a good friend I had for a long time and a man I still love, Brother Elvis Presley. You know, if he were here right now, I’m sure he would say the same thing for me. I loved the man and he was truly the king of rock and roll. We’ve always had kind of a toss-up. Elvis and I. The King of Rock And Roll and I are the King of Soul. So I wanted to say this for the people, Elvis, and myself”.