Elvis Presley is the most successful solo music artist of all time, but could he have made it there without his Machiavellian manager Colonel Tom Parker? The former carnival worker was described by Tom Hanks, who is playing him in the Elvis biopic this summer, as both a genius and a scoundrel. The Dutch-born businessman, who died 25 years ago today, oversaw The King’s rise as a rock singer but also a Hollywood star. He even made sure that his client wouldn’t lose appeal during his two years in the army with careful marketing strategies.
However, as time went by, The Colonel was uncompromising and would walk away from deals that could have been great opportunities for Elvis.
These included the chance to star in Oscar-winning movies True Grit with John Wayne and A Star Is Born with Barbra Streisand.
The King may have been making lots of poor musical rom-coms, but from Parker’s business point of view, the system was working.
On top of this, Elvis was keen to perform abroad, but only ever made it over the border to Canada since his manager was an illegal immigrant who couldn’t risk leaving the country for the world tour.
Believing it was a 50/50 deal between the two, Billy added: “I think Elvis would have been still a really big star even if he hadn’t had The Colonel.”
In fact, the Memphis Mafia member went as far as to say that he thinks The King could have gotten away from The Colonel later on and actually become even bigger a star than he was in life.
Billy said: “I think in the later years, things had changed so much in the music world and how bookings went that I think The Colonel kinda dropped behind.
“I liked The Colonel a lot and I thought he was a great person. But still, facts are facts and I think in the later years that The Colonel held Elvis back.”