Washington (CNN) – When Elvis Presley wrote Richard Nixon a few days before December 21, 1970, he had an explicit goal in mind.
"Sir, I can and will be of any service that I can to help the country out," wrote Presley. "I can and will do more good if I were made a Federal Agent at Large and I will help out by doing it my way though my communications with people of all ages."
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.
It was a direct request from the king of rock-and-roll. He wanted the sitting President of the United States to, in effect, deputize him – badge and all.
On this day in 1977, Elvis Presley was found dead in his house. Presley died of an apparent heart attack, reportedly because of his addiction to barbiturates and an unhealthy lifestyle. But long after his death, his meeting with Nixon has been etched in pop culture lore.
When the Presley letter reached the White House, it crossed the desk of Egil "Bud" Krogh, a Nixon aide who would later go to jail for his role in the Watergate scandal. Krogh, himself a Presley fan, convinced his bosses that a meeting with Elvis would be good for the president.
"I have talked to Bud Krogh about this whole matter and we think that it would be wrong to push Presley off on the Vice President…" reads a White House memorandum about the event. "If the President wants to meet with some bright young people outside Government, Presley might be a perfect one to start with."
The documents in this article can all be found in a treasure trove of information presented on the National Security Archives' site hosted by George Washington University.
On that same memo, Bob Haldeman, Nixon's chief of staff and the person who approved of who could meet with the president during "Open Hour," wrote "You must be kidding," in the margin. Even still, Haldeman approved the meeting.
Looking back on the historic meeting, Krogh remembered it as a unique scene in the White House, Nixon in suit and tie, Presley with an open, high collared shirt, purple velvet pants and matching velvet cape. At one point, the rock icon even had his iconic amber sunglasses on.
Years after the event, Krogh has described it as "a rare point of intersection between two great forces of the time."
During the visit, Presley presented Nixon with family photos and spoke extensively about his love for America.
Though the event was not recorded, Krogh took extensive notes.
"Presley indicated that he thought the Beatles had been a real force for anti-American spirit," Krogh wrote. "The president nodded in agreement and expressed some surprise."
According to the notes, Presley was adamant that he "wanted to be helpful" and that he wanted to "restore some respect for the flag which was being lost."
Then, the king popped the question – could Nixon make Presley a "Federal Agent At-Large" from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs?
Nixon turned to Krogh, the aide who set up the event, and asked, "Bud, can we get him a badge?" Krogh indicated that he thought the White House could make it happen and the president then nodded his head in affirmation. "Then," wrote Krogh, "in a surprising, spontaneous gesture, [Presley] put his left arm around the President and hugged [Nixon]."
This meeting, though, was not just a one-way transaction. Presley, who had an affinity for historic guns, brought Nixon a chrome-plated WWII commemorative Colt .45 in a wooden case. Included in the gift were seven silver bullets.
Not surprisingly, the Secret Service did not let the gun in the Oval Office and Nixon was only later told of the gift.
"I hope you understand why your gift can't be taken into the Oval Office," Krogh wrote that he told Presley. "No guns in the Oval Office it standard policy around her."
Ten days after the meeting, Nixon wrote Presley to thank him for the gun.
"You are particularly kind to remember me with this impressive gift, as well as your family photographs and I am delighted to have them for my collection of special mementos," Nixon wrote.