The manager of Elvis Presley, Colonel Tom Parker, died 25 years ago yesterday, on January 21 1997. The music mogul managed to catapult the King of Rock and Roll’s career to its next level after taking over as his boss in 1955, but he would not let the star do certain things. In a 1987 interview, he defended his actions, while adding that the star “would not let” anyone boss him around.
Parker was interviewed by ABC News in 1987 to commemorate the ten year anniversary of Elvis. During the chat, he was quizzed over not letting the star appear on some talk shows such as The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Parker explained: “I kept him back but I didn’t do it deliberately. I found out some of my friends – they had artists – they put them on all the shows, talk shows, for free, and [the artists] had a hard time getting a job after that.”
Parker added that he thought these shows were “bad promotion”.
Parker revealed: “I felt it was good for us not to go on. All these fellas were good friends of mine but when you go on these shows, most of the time, they book people when they’re big stars so they don’t hurt them too much.” He added: “We were starting out and it wouldn’t have helped us any, which was proven because we did all right without them.”
Parker also spoke candidly about working with Elvis behind the scenes.
Parker was born in the Netherlands and entered the USA illegally. Because of this, it has been suggested the boss was scared of leaving the country in fear he would not be granted a US passport, thus locking him out of the country.
This key detail is reportedly what prevented Parker from allowing Elvis to perform and tour in other countries, potentially boosting his popularity even further.
What’s more, Parker was an avid gambler that supposedly got out of control during the mid-1960s. Elvis’ boss would spend 12-14 hours a day gambling in casinos in Las Vegas, betting large sums of money at any given time. It was suspected Parker owed the Las Vegas Hilton hotel more than $30 million in 1977, at the time of Elvis’ death.