Anything about Elvis
More than 30 Million visitors can't be wrong

Colonel Tom Parker

Tue Jun 17, 2003 6:15 pm

A review of the book we are waiting for:-


Nash, Alanna
The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley
Simon & Schuster (416 pp.)
Jul. 15, 2003
ISBN: 0-7432-1301-7

Colonel Parker: con man, impresario, criminal--though perhaps best summed up by his military discharge report, "Psychosis, Psychogenic Depression, acute, on basis of Constitutional Psychopathic State, Emotional Instability."

Journalist Nash (Golden Girl: The Story of Jessica Savitch, not reviewed, etc.), who makes heroic attempts at an even hand--"the Colonel was all the things he appeared to be, both good and bad"--nonetheless has a difficult time fleshing out the former. What he was good at was making sure he got a whopping share of his clients' money. Otherwise, he was a mighty unsavory character, starting with the author's conjecture that he was involved in a murder back in Holland, which caused him to flee to the US. He became the arch carnival man before transferring his overbearing sales talents to music promotion, representing Ernest Tubbs, Roy Acuff, Eddy Arnold, and Hank Snow, and then taking on Elvis as his cottage industry. Nash suggests Parker "single-handedly took the carnival tradition first to rock and roll, and then to modern mass entertainment... by merely applying the exploitational tactics of the barker to his own client, he drew a straight line from the bally platform... to the hullabalooed concert stage." He was also a paranoid controller with a need to diminish and degrade, a man who mulcted his client with an absurd 50% commission rate (and no cut in the peripheral sales), and who drove Elvis mercilessly to perform, brushing off the performer's panic attacks and fears that led to his drag abuse, as well as his obvious physical and emotional decline. Yes, as a Parker crony said, "Nobody killed Elvis except Elvis," but with friends like Parker, who needs an executioner?

A smoothly detailed study of one shady man--an exploiter and murder suspect who drove his meal ticket to the grave--and not even praiseworthy for his business acumen.""""

I await this more than I await Close Up :!:

Tue Jun 17, 2003 6:19 pm

Thanks for that KiwiAlan, it's a book I've wanted since I saw it announced on this site.

I've just read Albert Goldman's book. While it was nasty, I suspected their may be some merit in his views on Col. Parker. :shock:

Tue Jun 17, 2003 6:47 pm

Thanks for the post, Kiwi. I, too, anxiously await that book.

Tue Jun 17, 2003 8:38 pm

Not really much of a review but thanks for the post.
I'm not a Parker fan as I'm sure many are not.
I will read this book, however, I hope there are some positive
aspects of Parker's career discussed in Nash's writings (if there are any).

Tue Jun 17, 2003 8:50 pm

I sleep well at night knowing that Parker and Goldman share a bunk-bed in HELL and are spending all eternity in a sweltering heat, working as Satan's rest room attendants and wiping ole Beelzebub's rear end with pages from Goldman's book while being forced to listen repeatedly to "Ito Eats"...played backwards.


"His Truth Is Marching On..."

Tue Jun 17, 2003 8:52 pm

Harsh Baby!!!

Wed Jun 18, 2003 4:10 am

The problem is there is no 100 % proof that the Colonel killed anyone and there is no way to ever prove it meaning it is a non issue. Also, Elvis agreed to the 50-50. Whose fault is that? The person what tries for it or the person that agrees to it? The Colonel did not force Elvis on the road and had nothing to do with his drug problems. I smell B.S. If it shows his good side as well then it might be worth it. If not then it is B.S. along with the BS i just mentioned.

Wed Jun 18, 2003 4:24 am

Hadn't Evis suffered a concussion when he agreed? What a sweetheart Parker was. Wait untill Elvis has a accident and then get him to sign a agreement for 50%.

Wed Jun 18, 2003 6:23 am

Alan, thanks for posting the review. Where is it from? It reads like a publisher's media release and not an independent review. Just wondering.

Wed Jun 18, 2003 6:32 am

Khmm- Is there any argument you call on Elvis' side? All these sycophants made a killing on this side or used him to live the high life. Hey, I know he may have had ways out and didn't have to take it but he was the one with the talent, the one who didn't need them.

The Col. made some good moves at the start of Elvis' career but never had any faith in Elvis as a person, an artist or even a popular draw. He was the worst possible manager for a genuinely creative artist.

He made Elvis a joke in the industry. Only Elvis' artistry and charisma bailed them out time and time again.

Wed Jun 18, 2003 7:41 am

The review came from "Publishers Weekly" which I would imagine is somewhat similar to Billboard in that no one gets a bad review.

Before we star spectulating wheter or not the book is BS and how much Colonel is to blame perhaps we had better read it first :wink:

Wed Jun 18, 2003 9:00 am

I'm sure it will be a strong title. Nash is a good writer with a strong sensitive for country and country rock.

Thu Jun 19, 2003 3:11 am

Yes but this Nash person cannot prove any of the things that are accused. The Colonel made mistakes but no one is perfect. You claim The Colonel did not think much of Elvis? Well Elvis did not think much of the Colonel. They had something in common. Nobody forced Elvis to do anything. Elvis willing did everything from signing a 50-50 agreement to making bad movies to not leaving the country. The list goes on. Fot whatever reason he chose to let it all happen which is unfortunate.

How can i side with Elvis on this stuff when he allowed it?

Thu Jun 19, 2003 7:20 am

I just think any criticism of Parker is on firm ground. Sure Elvis let this stuff happen but a manager's job is to make sure an artist doesn't have to worry about those things. They're supposed to protect the interests of the artists.

And I can't believe that the Col. was so dense that he didn't see by the 70s that good for Elvis was good for him. In the mid-60s Elvis did work that he didn't enjoy and the money suffered. In the late 60s Elvis enjoyed his work and finances boomed. You figure Parker would have gotten the lesson in self-preservation to keep Elvis happy.

I understand in many ways why Elvis went along with the publishing deal. In the early days it made sense, especially because of the way that performers are shafted in favor of songwriters. I also understand to an extent why Elvis went along with the movies. (Though the Col. did his best to isolate Elvis so he didn't see the holes in the strategy.)

However, I can't wait to read the rationale behind the 50 percent. I would understand if this was the deal they signed in 1955 but this was done in 1967 after Elvis was an international superstar.

I don't think it is fair of fans to demand business savvy from Elvis. He grew up in poverty and when money came in he wasn't going to complain. If you don't have someone to teach you better it's hard to learn.

Thu Jun 19, 2003 7:41 am

I think the way you do that is walk a mile in Elvis's shoes, and think about where he came from; Parker's making good on his promise to turn Elvis's million dollars' worth of talent into a million dollars; Elvis's strong sense of loyalty especially considering that success which Elvis may have thought would not have come his way without the Colonel; Colonel's acting as a father figure to him in the beginning probably added to that loyalty and respect that he gave to all his elders; Elvis's not having had the benefit of watching a performer who came before him experience the same kind of success he did, which would have given him some barometer by which he could determine how things should or shouldn't be done; and who knows if Parker was holding something over Elvis to keep him bound to him, or threatened to do things which would have ended his career and made his recurring nightmare of waking up and finding everything that he had worked for was gone, come true.

The main reason I wanted to post here was to tell you all, in case it is not already known, that excerpts from the book appear in the new Reader's Digest. I don't know if they are in stores just yet, but I was at someone's house a few hours ago who has a subscription and had just received it. On my way home I stopped in a drugstore, but they didn't have the new edition yet. So anyway, look for that. Should be enough to tide us over until the book comes out. :)

Thu Jun 19, 2003 7:43 am

Khmm wrote:How can i side with Elvis on this stuff when he allowed it?

Sorry it took me too long to type that--my post was in response to the above question.


Thu Jun 19, 2003 8:22 am

Excellent post Kiwi.


Thu Jun 19, 2003 11:45 am

Khmm wrote:Yes but this Nash person cannot prove any of the things that are accused.

We've been down this road before. How can you claim such a thing?

Not only haven't you read Alanna Nash's latest work -- as it isn't PUBLISHED until July -- but I doubt you've absorbed any of her previous biographies.

Perhaps you've never cracked open a book in your natural life.

Khmm wrote:The Colonel made mistakes but no one is perfect.

Least of all you, the resident "Tom Parker apologist" on this MB.

Thu Jun 19, 2003 2:40 pm

Khmm wrote:Nobody forced Elvis to do anything.

You don't know that. I don't either of course but there could have been something Parker blackmailed Elvis with... an underage girl incident at the Bel Air house or something like that. Who knows!

Consider that there may have been hushed/hidden arguments or incidents that fueled/forced Elvis' direction in his adult life.

If a harmless legal prescription habit was worth keeping hidden, there could have been alot worse things worth keeping hidden too. Things that affected decisions Elvis made to do...and not to do.

Parker did punish Elvis occasionally for not cowtowing to what Parker wanted. The $150 fine for missing a 1955 St. Louis, Mo matinee. Bob Neal was technically manager but here's special advisor Parker punishing "his boy" to make a point that Parker is in an authority parent role.

(Three weeks after that fine, Elvis sends Parker a telegram stating I LOVE YOU LIKE A FATHER. :shock: It's a mental submission thing)

The 1950s rumor that Elvis didn't like Mexican women...the rumor that Elvis said blacks could only shine his shoes...who knows if these subtle bad publicity jabs originated with a masochistic manager disciplining "his boy" to walk the line over something.

Why did Elvis refuse to defend his band when Parker via Tom Diskin denied them RCA studio time they had been promised to make The King's Men album in Sept. 1957. :?:

Even tho Elvis had agreed to play piano of some tracks, when the argument erupted between Moore, Black and Diskin over the cancellation of the project, Elvis avoided comment and walked out of the studio.

Maybe Elvis was afraid of being...disciplined.

That very night, Moore and Black resigned on paper. Not just over the album but mainly unfair wage money ($200 a week = $30 a night on tour) which was an issue the millionaire singer spent that summer avoiding. But it suddenly all came to a head.

Elvis did what Parker wanted (#1, don't give them a pay raise; #2, don't stick up for their aborted album) and therefore Elvis was party to a conspiracy to suppress and financially oppress his original bandmates.

Elvis not forced to avoid taking a stand in favor of The King's Men?

Look what it led to: a temporary bitter split and embarrasing "Elvis' Band Breaks Up" dish on the UPI wire and in Memphis where Presley, Moore, and Black lived! It was a season of discontent and made Elvis look like a scrooge superstar refusing to give raises and opportunities to his "hired help")

From Day One, Parker and Elvis needed each other for mutual gain. By the 1970s I think the relationship was in serious decay. No mutual respect. No fatherly love like the early days. lol Both gentlemen bound by contract and friendly to each other simply for cooporative ambitions. And not really trusting that one won't f**k the other over and burn this bridge for good.

Who had the most to lose? The client with the image to protect.

I think the bridge with Col. Parker was burnt by 1974 but Elvis stuck it out (bound by a legal exit-clause $$$ reimbursement Elvis simply could not afford!) Also Elvis stuck it out because he was worried about his image should a backstabbing ex-manager leak things......

Elvis seemed worried whether or not he would remain popular and bankable if they split. "If it wasn't for the Colonel I wouldn't have all this. I'm afraid I'll wake up tomorrow and it'll all be gone..."

What a head game. Elvis' lack of confidence in his fans never-ending loyalty - no matter the mgmt - was a hypnotic illusion old Svengali Parker forced upon Elvis' thinking and self-evaluation. We as fans could care less if Captain Kangaroo was Elvis' manager, Elvis would still be the handsome charismatic magnificent entertainer in the spotlight. Right?

But we have never really seen things thru Elvis' eyes. Or been in the Know of what he experienced.

From Elvis' own point of view, maybe he thought he'd wind up in the gutter as a has-been should he and his "genius" manager of 20+ years ever go their separate ways.

Cheruted Master and Pompadoured Puppet?

I sincerely believe that Elvis Presley discovered that while it is great to be King, it sucks to be Client. But apparently you can't be one without being the other. Cope with it until you can find a way to escape.

In August 1977, being The Client was rendered null and void.
It took death to make it happen. How sad.

Yet The King still remains. :wink:

- Just an observation.
Last edited by Graceland Gardener on Thu Jun 19, 2003 3:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Thu Jun 19, 2003 3:57 pm

An excellent and insightful post.
Thank you Graceland Gardener.
I don't always agree with the things you have to say/write but
kudos on a very perceptive angle on such a complex issue.
Your points certainly ring true to my ears (for as little first-hand information that I have been exposed to)
Thank you again.

Thu Jun 19, 2003 4:13 pm

The only person who did Elvis in, was Elvis.


The Col., did not care about Elvis .......... only about what Elvis could do for The Snowman's wallet.

Let it snow, ........ let it snow, ............... let it snow ................


Vernon Presley, if given the chance, probably would have served as "President" of The Official Col. Tom Parker Fan-Club; just listen to some of VP's remarks at the end of EIC (the June 1977 interview in his living room).

... just a fan ....

Thu Jun 19, 2003 4:27 pm


Excellent post! Did you write the foreword in Nash's book? :)

Thu Jun 19, 2003 5:03 pm

Thanks guys. :oops:

I suspect Parker had 2 long-term missions: Plan A - build up Elvis as rich and famous and beloved. Plan B - Stockpile ammunition to destroy Elvis if need be.

Parker out there in the crowd selling I LOVE ELVIS buttons and selling I HATE ELVIS buttons is very symbolic and very telling of his game plan.

take the high road but have a map for the low road...make sure there's a front door and a back door.

I've always wondered what it was that Red & Sonny did that was soooo terrible to justify being fired, but the Colonel was never fired even tho he screwed Elvis out of 50% income and immeasurable royalties

I bet by 1976, if Elvis sat down and made two lists, he probably had more reasons to be disatisfied with the manager than with the bodyguards. But who gets the brunt of Elvis' frustrations? A guy he went to high school with and the guy's cousin who have spent years doing whatever Elvis wanted.

That's like a child being mad at his Dad but he can't do anything about that so instead he goes outside and kicks the dog. Take it out on someone else.

It's easier to devour down the foodchain rather than up.

That '77 tell-all book was the death knell Elvis feared but I bet Parker was thinking, "This book will sell millions. I wonder how I can get a piece of the action."

Notice how documentary cameras were back in the arenas after a five year absense. Maybe the Colonel thought, "Elvis seriously looks like he may die soon. I'd better videotape this tour." Marketing Plan B.

Thu Jun 19, 2003 11:42 pm

Graceland Gardener, I think you are right on the money ( as was the " Colonel") Don't forget how Eddie Arnold dumped the Colonel by telegram in the ''50's-he was going to make damn sure that never happened again! So, he cut the young, uneducated country boy off from the real world so he could never learn to be as "clever" as his former client. And consider how carefully packaged & maintained Elvis' image had always been, from devil worshipping rock'n'roller to all-american boy: the good ole' Colonel WANTED that book to come out, and probably did have a cut in it. If he hadn't, it would have been stopped-fact is, he could smell the money it would bring, and he knew that this time the money would all be his.

Fri Jun 20, 2003 12:55 am

Critic Dave Marsh delivered the best assessment of the Colonel to writer Frank Coffey. He said, "the Colonel went to his grave believing he had pulled off some carny trick when what he had actually done was sell genius short for 23 years."