The following interview of Joanna Johnson with Loanne Parker from ETA Radio coming from Yahoo was published in newsgroup alt.elvis.king thanks to Dawn. It can be an interesting read for Elvis fans.
There were absolutely no restrictions on the questions that ETARadio was able to ask of Mrs. Parker, and in this interview Loanne and Joanna spend considerable time discussing the various myths and stories surrounding the Colonel.
As ETARadio's Joanna Johnson states at the end of the taped conversation, Loanne is a most dignified and loving spokesperson - and all of us at LadyLuck Music and ETARadio wish to thank Loanne Parker for her gracious participation in this heartfelt and meaningful rare interview.
I'd like to thank you for agreeing to this telephone interview. And I'd also like to welcome you to our show. Now Loanne, there's been a lifetime of Elvis rumors, quotes, misquotes writings about the Col that people around the world have heard and we're going to get into that. We may get into that later but ight now I'd like to hear form you and how you would describe the Colonel as your knew him, as a person, as your husband and of course the personal and working relationship you had, both of you with EP.
Q Start with when did you meet the colonel?
A I met the Colonel in 1969 in Las Vegas, that was when Elvis was preparing to appear at the International Hotel, he was the second artist to appear, Barb Streisand (was) the first, because again the Col wisdom was don't be the first act. You're going to have a lot of problems with sounds, etc. and he didn't want to put Elvis in that position. That's when I met him, I was an employee of the hotel
Q I believe you were his secretary, how did that happen?
A I was never his secretary. Colonel Tom and I had a personal relationship. And when they decided that Elvis would tour, the tour sponsor was RCA records, and they needed a secretary to travel on the tour and I was hired as the RCA records tour secretary and I held that position until Elvis' death. So I was on the road with the show.
Q How long were you married to the Colonel?
A Col and I were married in 1990 but again our relationship went back to 1970.
Q That's a long time.
A That's a very long time and we went through a lot together Joanna. There were very traumatic things that occurred in his life, Elvis death, that just turned our world upside down, His wife Marie died and before she died she was literally a vegetable, that was very, very difficult for him. There were other problems that came up of course, the problem with the state of Tennessee. Everyone says there was problem between the estate and Col Parker. The problem was with the guardian ad lidim who was appointed for Lisa, in fact the estate refused to make charges against the colonel and that's in the court record. The judge ordered them to proceed or they would be replaced. So there was never the problem between the estate and the colonel, that's another one of those stories.
Q. We're gonna come up with a few of them as we go along. Were you involved in any way with the col.'s business dealings?
A. Absolutely, I was the sec for RCA record tours but I was assigned to the Colonel and my initial during that period appear at the bottom of many, many of his letters, plus he confided a lot in me.
Q He was a great man.
A He was great all on his own, he didn't need anyone behind him. But I think he enjoyed having someone there who appreciated his work talents. Marie did not like show-business, she was uncomfortable with show business. And so he couldn't discuss it with her, probably didn't even think of discussing it with her. Because they were in the age group where a man had his life which was his business, the wife had her home, children if there were any and there were a few things that they would talk about in regard to the home and children but that was about it.
Q That's something that's very difficult, to have a working and personal relationship with your husband, you must have been very, very close.
A Oh, we were close, we were extremely close. In 1985 we closed all of our homes and moved here to Las Vegas. I'd had a home here all during that period and we were together 24 hours a day from 1985 until his death.
Q Is that where you're from, Las Vegas originally?
A No, I'm from Ohio.
Q When did you move out to Vegas?
Q Did you get to go to any of Elvis' concerts?
A Yeah. Of course.
Q How do you remember them?
A He was dyn-o-mite
Q That's what you remember?
A I wish every one of your listeners could have attended a concert and seen him perform in person because you had to be there to feel the electricity, to feel the excitement, he had an aura, a magnetism that doesn't come across on film, he looks great on film but in person he was even more sensational. I was NOT an Elvis fan when I met colonel. I didn't dislike Elvis but he just wasn't my style but was I converted quickly, one show, that did it.
Q Would you say you ended up knowing Elvis very, fairly well?
A No, now I didn't.
Q What would you remember the most of Elvis? What stands out in your mind?
A I think the most that stands out is that he was a human being who cared. His talent was a plus but I think he would have been a caring human being no matter what occupation he'd gone into. And I think people forget about that, too often they see him as Elvis the entertainer. It's such a tough life to lead, I know people everywhere will disagree with that. A friend of mine who was an entertainer said one of the problems he had was, he said he was single at the time. He said that `women go to bed with a star and they wake up with me,' and I think that's very telling. Everyone expects a star to be a star 24 hours a day, and that's a lot of pressure.
Q Many of Elvis' friends have spoken highly of Colonel, have you kept in touch with these people?
A Yes, oh yes, Joe Esposito, Jerry Schilling, Sonny West, I've been in touch with Jack Soden CEO of the estate, Priscilla and I talk from time to time, I’m friend s with those people. Dick Grob is another one. I had breakfast with Jerry Schilling and Joe Esposito about six weeks ago. Charlie Stone, he was on this show, Mike Crawly , Someone else that you might be aware of is Paul Gongaware He and his partner, Concerts West has booked Celine Dion in Caesar's palace.
Q When you talk to these friends I'm sure you share stories about you know remember when Elvis did this or that. Could you share a story or two with us about Colonel and Elvis, something he would have discussed whether it be amusing?
A I'm trying to think of something with colonel and Elvis. All right, one night, our group always traveled ahead of the show and we had our own plane . I traveled with Colonel's group. We would go ahead and make sure that all the arrangements were set up, the hotel rooms were assigned. Every time a musician or any member got off the plane there was someone there to meet them with a hotel key and transportation to take them to the hotel and so forth. Colonel got a call before Elvis plane left and what they said was he's not in a real good mood tonight, Colonel. So Col went up to Elvis' suite and he borrowed some paraphernalia from the janitor of the hotel and when Elvis walked in, Colonel had a push broom and he was sweeping the hallways. Elvis said `Colonel what are you doing.?; And Colonel said `Elvis, I'd do anything for you.' Elvis broke up, he thought that was really funny, It changed his mood.
Q How would you describe the relationship between e and the colonel?
A Complex .They trusted one another to the point where colonel said Elvis I am not a singer, I'm not an artist, I don't know what songs you should choose, I don't know what kind of attire you should wear on stage. Elvis handled everything in the creative part and he did an extremely great job. Col took care of the business,