The Bizarre True Story About The First Time Brian Wilson Met Elvis Presley

At times, during premieres and after performances, celebrities deign to allow some of their fans to meet them. For the dedicated, it's a nerve-jangling prospect. What do you say to somebody you have long idolized? An excitable "hi" while thrusting something at them you'd like signed — that's often as far as things go. It can be a shame if you had a particularly insightful and brilliant question for them beforehand, only to fail to get it out in the excitement of the moment, but it could be worse.

Brian Wilson, per Britannica, has a crucial place in the history of music, defining the genre of surf music as the head of beloved troupe the Beach Boys. On meeting Elvis Presley, however, he was nothing more than another awe-struck fan, and in his excitement, it seems he — for whatever reason — displayed his less-than-stellar karate prowess for the King. Presley, for his part, was not impressed at all, according to Far Out Magazine.

For some, of course, Presley is nothing more or less than a musical legend. His career, his success, the renown he continues to enjoy today — it all speaks for itself. The dedication his ardent followers still have for him is remarkable. In June 2004, one Thomas Gäthje achieved Guinness World Records immortality for the longest Presley singing marathon, putting on a performance lasting 43 hours, 11 minutes, and 11 seconds. Now that's commitment.

Elvis Presley, karate king

However it may have consumed his life, though, there was more to Elvis Presley than just music. He was a complicated man and a committed hard worker. Another thing that he famously dedicated himself to was karate, a passion he seemed to discover while serving in the army. In "Careless Love: The Unmaking Of Elvis Presley," author Peter Guralnick recounts how Elvis began studying karate after watching Jurgen Seydel, aka "the father of German karate," in action. Presley himself rose to become a black belt himself, according to Mental Floss.

Karate, then, became intrinsically linked with everything that Elvis was. His most ardent fans, of course, knew this tidbit about him (and seemingly, every other), and it was one that the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson apparently tried to reference on meeting his hero. Sadly, it seems, Wilson learned an important lesson: you don't try to spontaneously karate chop the King.

Far Out Magazine reports that the fateful meeting between Wilson and Presley took place in the 1970s, the decade of the King's untimely death. Quite by chance, and completely separately, both artists were recording music at the Hollywood locale of RCA Studios. As any excitable fan knows, you don't pass up opportunities like that, and so Wilson asked if he could meet the musician he adored.

An ill-judged karate chop from Brian Wilson

Elvis Presley, it seems, wasn't familiar with the man who soon stood before him (and, by this stage of his life, Presley surely encountered a dizzying number of over-enthusiastic fans). Far Out Magazine reports that he held out a begrudging hand to Brian Wilson regardless. At that moment, the Beach Boys star had an idea that might have seemed to have been a good one at the time.

Via Beach Boys Legacy on YouTube, Wilson shared the humiliating story on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" in May 2012. Wilson said he had managed to convince Presley to come and listen to some of what Wilson was recording. Presley agreed. It would have been quite an honor, but then it all went wrong. Wilson demonstrated to Jimmy Fallon how he faux-karate-chopped Presley, explaining that his move was swiftly rebuffed by the King. "He karate-chopped my arm so hard, and then he goes, 'I'm leaving, I'm leaving,' and he split," Wilson told Fallon.

Yes, they say you should never meet your heroes, but they don't generally mean because you might be tempted to randomly perform martial arts moves on them. "I love that you karate-chopped Elvis Presley for no reason," Fallon cackled.