Elvis was the biggest star in the world and throughout his career he was desperate to travel and tour overseas. Yet he only went to Germany for military service from 1958 to 1960, and occasional trips to Hawaii later in his career. At the June 9, 1972 press conference for his concerts at Madison Square Garden, he confessed that his two biggest dreams were to make non-musical films to show off his acting abilities and to travel and tour in the stranger. He had great opportunities to do both (including an invitation from the Queen to perform in London), but one man constantly opposed him – his manager, Colonel Parker. A man who lied about his nationality and military service was known to be a murder suspect – and died working in a casino to feed a gambling habit that cost him his $100million fortune. Even Baz Luhrmann calls him a “sociopath”.
Dick Clark, the American Bandstand host, once said, “Parker’s handling of the man was as bad, if not worse, than his handling of Elvis’ business affairs. He kept him in a cage like an animal. He brought him out like a trained bear.”
This cage was blamed for the king’s rapid decline in the mid-1970s, even Priscilla Presley said Elvis’ binge eating and compulsive addictions were often triggered by his professional misfortune – starting with the endless series of films unsatisfactory and increasingly repetitive. musicals (sometimes three a year) Parker forced him to continue producing throughout the 1960s.
There’s a famous image from a movie set of Elvis pointing a gun at Parker, but countless friends, family members and commentators have described how it was the nativity scene who constantly held a gun to Parker’s head. his client and the cash cow.
There’s no denying that it was Parker who catapulted Elvis from local sensation in the South to national and then global superstar.
Parker heard Elvis and his band The Blue Moon Boys in 1955 and knew there was something special there. He quickly secured the band’s gigs and worked alongside their manager, Sun Records owner Sam Phillips. Parker eventually paid $35,000 for Elvis’ contract and soon began a bidding war with national record labels. He chose RCA because there were existing relationships he could use to exert influence.
Parker was a born hustler, who told everyone he was born in Appalachia. In fact, his real name was Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk, a Dutch carnival and dock worker born in Breda in 1909. He had a number that made the chickens “dance” on a red griddle.
He had mysteriously disappeared on the night of May 17, 1929, leaving behind all his belongings, including expensive clothes, identity papers and money. That same evening, a local woman, Anna an den Enden, was brutally killed at the street greengrocer where the “Parker” family lived. She was horribly beaten in the head.
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As for the Southern (fake) drawling, military title, Parker helped Jimmie Davis become Governor of Louisiana in 1944 and received the honorary rank of Colonel in the Louisiana State Militia. He also dodged the World War II draft by piling on so much weight that he became ineligible.
Parker and Elvis’ symbiotic relationship has become increasingly strained in recent years. Despite her displeasure with film and music release choices, the star has rarely held firm – including reversing her manager’s decision to insist on bold and exciting song choices for her 1968 TV comeback special. .
It wasn’t enough. Losing projects like A Star Is Born (and seeing it triumph at the Oscars) combined with a grueling touring regimen while half his earnings go to Parker have all taken their toll, fueled by an excessive cocktail of prescription drugs.
Elvis died on August 16, 1977. At the time it was reported that Parker owed the Las Vegas Hilton over $30 million ($135 million today) in gambling debts. He continued to manage the estate of ‘Elvis but had sold the rights to the first lucrative recordings.
Parker died in Vegas on January 21, 1997, at the age of 87. His funeral was held at the Las Vegas Hilton and Priscilla said in her eulogy, “Elvis and the Colonel made history together, and the world is richer, better and so much more interesting because of them working together. And now , I need to locate my wallet, because I noticed there was no ticket office on the way back, but I’m sure the Colonel must have arranged for a toll on the way back.