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Tom Parker Born About 100 Years Ago

February 18, 2009 | Other

Our friends from ElvisMatters will organize a huge event in Breda, The Netherlands, the birthplace of Col. Parker. From June 26 - June 29 Breda will turn into Elvis Town with several exhibitions, a film festival, a concert with the TCB band and much more. We congratulate ElvisMatters with making this event possible. Here is an excerpt from their announcement, you can read the complete announcement in our events section and of course on their own site.

100 years Parker, 1000 x Elvis

On 26 June 2009 it will be exactly one hundred years ago that Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk (known as Dries) was born in Breda. This Dries, who emigrated to America at the age of nineteen, changed his name into Colonel Thomas A. Parker. Colonel Parker became world-famous as the manager of Elvis Presley. For 22 years, from 1955 till Elvis’s death in 1977, Dries van Kuijk, born and bred in Breda, was the manager of world’s biggest entertainer. As an Elvis Presley fan club we cannot and will not let this unique fact go by unnoticed. On 26, 27 and 28 June ElvisMatters organises a great Parker and Elvis weekend in Breda. This weekend will include several fascinating activities. A taste of what’s in store:

Main exposition: 100 years Parker - 1000 x Elvis

This is the most important and spectacular item of the entire event. In the chapel of the Holland Casino Breda, that was built in 1501 and has a surface of 300m², there will be held a unique exhibition about Elvis Presley. This exhibition will consist of 1.000 items and it will be the greatest exposition that has ever been held outside of Graceland. Numerous of precious and unique items from several private collections will be exceptionally displayed. A stage costume of Elvis, shirts he wore on stage, private clothing, his last guitar, film clothes, personal jewellery, stage outfits of his musicians, contracts, original signatures and so on. The list is practically endless. This exhibition will not only be a must for the Elvis fan, everybody that likes music will want to take a close look at this piece of history. As an extra, there will also be displayed 100 original and extremely rare film posters.


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Preslich wrote on February 18, 2009
Nice photo but that vulger is not worth such a gathering...people in Holland or Breda hate that SOB who did wrong, very wrong to our King
Sean Ryan wrote on February 18, 2009
Elvis deserves all the credit, not Parker.He was an illegal alien who got lucky by becoming the manager of the greatest recording artist of all time.He ripped Elvis off and should have got his marching orders in the early 60's.
Lex wrote on February 18, 2009
Fact is that Elvis kept him, and by making Elvis that big he did something well... It doesn't make sense to blame Parker for everything that went wrong. Of course he gave some wrong advices, but Elvis was responsible himself for his own decisions...
IndescribablyBlue wrote on February 18, 2009
Don't forget that Elvis didn't have anyone else among his friends or in his family that were very business minded. He had no choice but to rely on what Tom Parker told him was the right thing to do. At the beginning, Parker did some great things to push Elvis to the top. But it was later on when Parker's greed kicked into full gear and he started measuring everything in dollar signs. And Parker didn't keep up with the way the music business was changing. He fell behind and pushed Elvis down the wrong path. I for one won't be celebrating anything on that day.
MW wrote on February 18, 2009
As Elvis was the greatest singer and performer in his field, Colonel Tom Parker was the greatest manager. They were a perfect team, together they made possible the biggest career in the history of popular music. None of them would have come that far without the other. Parker deserves as much respect and credit as Elvis does. If the fans like Parker or not: Elvis liked him, he trusted him. That's the only thing that really counts. And Elvis was right - his unmatched success proves that. Those who put down the Colonel don't know anything about show business and above all they don't understand Elvis at all, that's for sure. By the way: Parker was NOT an illegal alien! He served in the U.S. Army and he was married to an American citizen - that makes him a legal alien. Besides, he had a social security number, he paid his taxes, he set up some companies, he signed contracts, he went public, he permanently had his face photographed with one of the most famous men of all time. Is that the typical behaviour of an illegal alien? Surely not! Just think about this when you tend to believe all the crap that is said about this brilliant man.
dbacke1 wrote on February 18, 2009
I would probably have something to celebrate, but only halfway. I would say that Parker was responsible for Elvis' great success in the early years, but also for his downfall in the end. He kept him in the movies for too long, which deprived us of many years of missed musical opportunities for Elvis, and resulted in many embarassing moments on film. He also didn't let him tour internationally, which was a great loss to the world, and to Elvis, because seeing the rest of the world would have really helped him to grow and mature in a positive way. I truly believe that Elvis would probably still be alive today if he had sacked Parker in the early '70s, perhaps right after Aloha From Hawaii, which was Parker's last positive contribution to Elvis' career. He should have sacked Parker and taken maybe a year or two off to recuperate and get back into shape. Without Parker's interference, he could have probably taken the role the was offered to him in "A Star is Born", which I think would have boosted his career even more, and would have led to more quality film projects. It could have been the start of another ultimate comeback for The King. He could have done so many duets and collaborations that would have been awesome. Also, the quality of his albums would have been so much higher as well. The Colonel kept pumping out old recycled material and compilations, and always did things on the cheap to make a quick buck. In the end, he was a scumbag who exploited Elvis big time. The world would be a much better place if Elvis were alive today, and if perhaps Parker would have died of a heart attack on August 16, 1977 instead of Elvis!!!
PRESYER wrote on February 19, 2009
Dbacke1, you are thoroughly right ! Celebrating halfway is the thing to do. Too much "nonsense" films and not enough quality recordings sessions at certain periods of Elvis life. Colonel was constantly thinking about money making and the more he was making the more he was eager to make ! He would tell Elvis to do this and that and he did knew how to control him in every way. It's absolutely disgusting. Parker was a profiteer, period. And we have to remember of that day of June 26th which also reminds us that this was the date of Elvis last show ever in Indianapolis, Indiana (1977) and also that Elvis' father Vernon died on a June 26th (1979), all you can say is ...
Ruthie wrote on February 19, 2009
dbacke1 - you are absolutely right! I won't bother to repeat what you have said so well but you can't believe the number of business managers & agents of entertainers today who describe him as nothing but a "lucky opportunist". I have been extremely fortunate to be able to meet quite a few agents, sometimes just in passing, but everyone has stated the same thing. A lot has happened in the past 40 yrs in the entertainment management field that has brought about significant changes for the better for the artist. The Colonel would never get away with that today, as a matter of fact, he'd never get to first base with anyone. If you read about some of the major singers, actors, etc. of Elvis' time & even before, you will see that Elvis wasn't the only one with lousy management. But Elvis was & is so famous that the Colonel is the only one who stands out (even mentioned). Yes, the old crook did do some great things but ony by chance because, according to Esposito & Schilling, he had no sense of talent, no sense of music of any kind, no sense of loyalty - just a big sense of money. And, yes, Elvis would have been discovered & gone on to a great career, but the Colonel got there first. And Vernon couldn't wait to sign on that dotted line!
Natha wrote on February 19, 2009
Dbacke1, Presyer and Ruthie, you are so right. The Colonel's contribution should be seen in perspective. As for Elvis' (in a way blind) confidence in him was due to the fact that in the early years he relied on him. He was so young and innocent, and the grown ups around him were his guides. I think that was hard to break in those later years.
Tony C wrote on February 19, 2009
I have no sentimental feelings for Parker, he was what he always claimed to be, a ruthless businessman who made a lot of money for himself and his one and only client. Having said that, I do feel he is being unfairly blamed for Elvis' demise. Did he force the drugs down Elvis' throat? It's sad that the myth about Parker being an illegal alien is being repeated here, it was dispelled many years ago. At least we have not had the murder allegations repeated...yet!
benny scott wrote on February 19, 2009
Have to agree with debacke1, PRESYER, Ruthie and Natha. See Parker's meriths in perspective. As for MW : why not put a halo around the man's head and make him a saint ? Elvis liked and trusted Parker ? Maybe a certain amount of years, but surely not during the last couple of years of his life. Why not mention the fact that Elvis, in the end, was so fed up with the Col. that he planned to fire him ? So those who put down the Col. know nothing at all about showbusiness and don't understand Elvis ? Well, as you seem to worship Parker, you must know everything about showbusiness and understand Elvis, huh !!! I wonder how far your " knowledge about showbusiness " goes. What a ridiculous statement !
KTemple wrote on February 19, 2009
Listen MW, Elvis would have made it as big as he did without Parker, no doubt about that. His career would have been different for sure. To suggest Parker is the Greatest manager is rediculous, he had the Wolrds greatest entertainer under his wing, he was just lucky he got to Elvis before someone else did. He was good for Elvis in the 50'd but Elvis was too loyal to him and should have went under different management from the early 60's on. Also who says Elvis liked him, from what I have read Elvis couldnt stand him in the 70's!
MW wrote on February 19, 2009
Fitz & Benny Scott, sure there were times when Elvis was mad with the Colonel and said he would fire him. This is a normal thing in 22 years. Have you ever heard of a relationship (no matter if business, personal, friendship, romance, marriage or whatever) where there never was a quarrel in 22 years? I bet not. Fact is, Elvis didn't fire him, he kept him. That's what matters. Facts, not fiction. Fitz, you said Elvis was so big a talent that any other manager could have made him as famous as he became with Parker. Just face the facts: Elvis had two managers before Parker, Scotty Moore and Bob Neal. Did they make him famous nationwide or even worldwide? Did they put him on television? Did they make him a contract with a major record label? Did they bring him to Hollywood? No, no, no! So that proves your theory wrong. Elvis wanted to be exploited commercially, he loved the money. Parker just did the job that Elvis paid him to do. He did his part of the job just as good as Elvis did his. Don't blame him for that.
Jerome-the-third wrote on February 19, 2009
I think the casino's will take a moment of silence on that day..
MW wrote on February 19, 2009
The gambling war the only cliché about Parker that was still missing - now we've got it. Thanks, Jerome! It is everybody's private affair what he does with his own money. Parker liked to gamble, Elvis spent his money on girls, cars, houses, diamonds, clothes - and drugs. If Elvis had gone to the casino instead, he might be a poor man today - but still alive.
KTemple wrote on February 19, 2009
MW I did say he was good for Elvis in the 50's...... My theory is not wrong because Parker who you claim is the greatest manager could not do much with his previous clients Hank Snow, and Eddy Arnold. Do you think taking 50% of his clients' earnings is the sign of a good manager? Do you think restricting Elvis' creativity by putting him in the same movies over and over again is being a good manager? Do you think stopping Elvis doing the projects he wanted to do such as the Karate movie in 1974 and A Star is Born is good? Stopping Elvis touring Worldwide? Making songwriters give up their rights to their own songs thus restricting Elvis' song choice when they wouldn't do it? Putting Elvis in his prime in Las Vegas instead of a World tour? Wanting the 68 Special show to be a Christmas Show, Thank God he didnt get his way there!
Jerome-the-third wrote on February 19, 2009
MW, you're welcome. Do you happen to be a relative from our Uncle Tom?..
KTemple wrote on February 19, 2009
Just to clarify before MW goes on a rant, with regard to my comments regarding the success of Hank Snow and Eddie Arnold, this is in comparison to Elvis' success. They both were successful country artists in America. Parker however could not make them house hold names all over the World.
MW wrote on February 19, 2009
Okay, Fitz: - If you read the biographies of Eddy Arnold and Hank Snow, you'll find out that their time with Parker was among their most successful. The Colonel couldn't do any more for them because as country artits they were restricted in their opportunities for worldwide fame. - Parker never had 50% from all earnings, only from business companies Elvis and he set up together. Of the rest he got 25% which is usual for a personal manager with only one client. - Parker never forced Elvis to do something. There's no more slavery in the U.S. today. Elvis was a free man, he was the boss, he made the final decisions, he signed the contracts with his own hhands, not Parker. The Colonel could only advise him. It was Elvis who said "yes" or "no". - Talking Elvis out of "A Star IS Born" was the right decision in every way. If you had ever seen that movie you'll know why. That role was great for Kristofferson but it would have been a desaster for Elvis. - Making songwriters give up a share of their royalties when a big name records their songs is the way it's usually done in the music business - long before Elvis and still today. I know that because I am in that business for 20 years now. - If Elvis had REALLY wanted to do a worldwide tour, nobody could have kept him away from that. Let' face it: Elvis was sick of touring. What difference would it have made for Elvis if he were playing on a stage in Omaha or in Paris, except for the fact that the French wouldn't have understood his jokes? Three times as long on the road for the same money, that's all. Besides this, how might European customs have reacted to loads of drugs and weapons in the guys' luggage? - The 68 Special as a Christmas Special was the idea that also Elvis liked at first. It was what the contract with Singer and NBC said. There's noithing wrong with that. Almost every big artist in the states makes a Christmas Special sooner or later. When Elvis changed his mind, the Colonel had no choice but to follow him. That proves what I said above: Elvis was the boss, he had the final decision. It's the usual way that devoted fans rewrite history: The success was all Elvis' merit. For everything that went wrong they put the blame on the Colonel, on Priscilla, on Dr. Nick, or on the Memphis Mafia. That might be nice but it's far from reality. Those fans who say that Elvis was the Colonel's will-less marionette make him a stupid hillbilly fool with no opinion of his own. Is that the way you want to see your idol? It surely isn't my way.
oldrooty wrote on February 19, 2009
I think that Lex, Indesciribably Blue and MW make some balanced points here. The truth is somewhat painful but is there if you want to see it.
Steve V wrote on February 19, 2009
Wow Ruthie - we dont agree a lot but you are 100% right on with this one. I couldnt agree more. My philosophy on the Colonel is very simple. He was great for Elvis 1956-61 and the worst possible manager from 1962 onwards. Any books you read verify this espeicially Binder's book 68 at 40. It really gives an idea of how out of touch the Colonel was in career guidance by the late 60's and what an a-hole he was to deal with it.
KTemple wrote on February 19, 2009
Ok MW, tell me this, Did Parker make any mistakes in your opinion? Are you denying that Elvis did not like some of his movies, that he didn't like doing the same stuff over and over? As I said Parker had his good points but they were limited, the same way they were limited with his previous clients. Who's to say if the French would understand "his jokes" or not? He wasn't a comedian and nations all around the world certainly understand the music. It is quite narrow minded to think otherwise. It's all about being creative. Did Elvis say "yes lets do another 5 movies with the same script and sub standard songs" I doubt it. Ok Parker made Elvis money, he was good at making a deal but he also cost Elvis alot. My idol, Elvis, had his faults but one of them was being too loyal for too long to Parker.
benny scott wrote on February 19, 2009
Hi Fitz, how right you are in your comments, I couldn't agree more ! Always El.
Sean Ryan wrote on February 19, 2009
MW, Parker WAS an illegal alien.He admitted this in court.Elvis had no knowledge of this and didnt know that his real name wasnt Thomas Parker and this was the reason why he didnt want Elvis to tour outside of the US cause he couldnt go with him.He never had a passport and never applied for one cause if he did his secret would have been exposed.It was only the early 80's courtcase that he decided to tell the court his secret he had kept for so many years cause he was losing the case which would have put the trial back months costing the Elvis Estate even more legal fees so they had no choice but to offer him $2million to drop any claim on Elvis' Estate.
Jerome-the-third wrote on February 19, 2009
Dries van Cuijk, AKA Our beloved Tom..
kev11467 wrote on February 20, 2009
I'm just curious if Parker is charging the maggots for the rights to eat his rotting corpse......
Deke Rivers 6 wrote on February 20, 2009
There was a story that Elvis was involved in an auto accident resulting in a death and Parker held this truth from the police protecting Elvis,but would threaten Elvis to tell the police if he didn't do what he (Parker) asked.How true this is, I don't know. Most people know what I think of Parker anyway !
MW wrote on February 20, 2009
Sean Ryan, get your facts straight. In court Parker didn't admit he was an illegal alien. He just said he wasn't a U.S. citizen. Living in America without being a U.S. citizen doesn't make you an illegal alien. The United States of America have always been an immigrant country. People from all over the world came there, changed their names and made a career. Dries van Kujik did what millions of other immigrants did. What's wrong with that? Surely Elvis knew that Parker was a Dutchman. Parker had a strong Dutch accent. Elvis wasn't that deaf not to notice. Also, in the early 60's Parker introduced his brother (who only spoke Dutch) to Elvis. Elvis simply didn't care because being an immigrant from Europe is the most normal thing in the United States. Those who say that Parker was good for Elvis in the 50's but made a bad job in the 70's should stop for a minute and think about who really made a bad job in the 70's. Elvis rareley set his foot in a recording studio and gave lots of concerts that were substandard. Still he made tons of money. What more can a manager do for an artist who isn't motivated at all? Surely Elvis disliked some of his movies. But he signed the contracts himself, that's a fact. Nobody forced him to do so. Having the choice between art and money, Elvis always went for the money. If Elvis had REALLY wanted to become a serious actor and make a sophisticated movie, he could have done so at any time. He had enough money to produce one for himself. He never did so because money counted more for Elvis than artistic matters. There's nothing wrong with that. That's why he had Parker as his manager. As long as the figures in a contract fitted his expectations, Elvis always did whatever they wanted him to do. As I already said: Parker's part of the job was to exploit Elvis' artistical output commercially as much as possible. Elvis paid him a lot of money to do so. So don't blame Parker for doing a good job. Always be aware that Elvis wanted it just that way. Fitz, you're asking me if I think if Parker made any mistake. He surely did, just like Elvis. Every human being makes mistakes. In the end, success is the sum of every right decision being made. Today, it's easy to look back and tell what could have been done better. But what did they know back then? Just have a look at Elvis' career which was the biggest one in the history of show business - and still is today. So there can't be too much the two of them did wrong. And who are we to judge? Please be fair and give Parker his share of the credits for Elvis' career. That's all I ask you to do. Just remember: Elvis was always aware of what a great job Parker did. That's why he kept him. Don't go saying Elvis was an idiot who trusted the wrong man. His success proves that he was right, no matter what you say, no matter if you like it or not. The facts of this outstanding career speak for themselves.
KTemple wrote on February 20, 2009
MW, I appreciate that Parker had his good points. I do not think that Elvis always went for the money infact I don’t think he even read the contracts he signed, he simply trusted Parker and his father to do the right thing for him. By no means was Elvis an idiot and that is not what is the issue here, no one is saying that he was. I love Elvis and his music but I’m not saying he was perfect. He lost interest in recording in the 70’s, that is true but I think that is because of many reasons and one of them is lack of good material. He said this himself at the NYC press conference in ’72. You give Parker far too much credit and you paint a picture of Elvis being a money grabbing person who didn’t care if he recorded Yoga is as Yoga Does for a fortune or How Great Thou Art for half the amount. I feel Elvis would always go with the quality but the substandard songs that came with the movie scripts were taking precedence. Elvis wanted to be a serious actor and the early movies were obviously the better ones. He just lost interest when each movie as time went on turned out to be very similar and below par. How do you think Elvis felt in the 60’s when the Beatles, Rolling Stones etc were so successful and yet Elvis was artistically struggling. Elvis was a proud man and he would have loved to be competing with those other artists. Yes he made money and no one held a gun to his head to sign anything but nevertheless I feel Elvis wanted a different path for his career in the mid 60’s but couldn’t change until ’69. After a while he got bored of playing Vegas and touring the same cities every year. A great manager would see this happening and try to come up with new challenges. After Aloha the obvious thing was to go on a World tour, instead Elvis found himself back in Vegas yet again fulfilling a long term contract.
MW wrote on February 20, 2009
Fitz, if it wasn't for the money, why did Elvis make over 20 silly movies? If this had happened once or twice, you could call it a mistake. But not two dozens of times. I personally don't think that Elvis didn't read the contracts he signed. I believe this is an urban legend. I'm sure Elvis knew what he was doing at any time in his career. But even if he actually didn't read the contracts or simply didn't care, that would have been Elvis' fault. You can't blame Parker for that. Art is the artist's part of the job. If an artist is really an artist (and Elvis was!), he doesn't need a manager to tell him what to do artistically, what songs to sing etc. That may be the case for some of todays' retort stars who are not able to go to the toilet without their manager's permission, but surely not for Elvis. Parker's only job is to make as much profit as possible from Elvis' creative output. Elvis needed the money, Elvis loved the money, he used to spend it big time, as we all know. So he always decided in favour of those deals that made him he most money. That's fine so far. Those who blame Elvis for that should start asking themselves why they get up every morning to go to work. You're right, after Aloha would have been a perfect opportunity for a concert tour to foreign countries. That might have been a professional challenge for Elvis - but not a personal one, as some fans like to see it, for Elvis never showed any interest in sightseeing. As he always used to lock himself away in a dark hotel room, it wouldn't have made any difference for him which country and city this room was in. It is okay to critize Parker and Elvis for not making a worldwide tour - as long as you do it because of the right reasons. Whatever those reasons were, it surely wasn't Parker's citizenship. The fact that this crap has been repeated millions of times doesn't make it true. It is also not true that Elvis didn't record rock songs in the 70's because of a lack of good material, even though he said so in the MSG press conference. In his interviews, he always told people what he thought they wanted to hear. Let's face it, Elvis lost interest in that kind of music in his later years. He preferred ballads that were more of a challenge for his voice. He simply felt too old and mature to sing any more lyrics like "baby let me be your teddy bear". Everybody knows the "good cop, bad cop" scenery from the police movies. It's the same with an artist/manager relationship: The artist is always the good guy in the public's eye. He has to smile and say the nice things, while the not so nice things always come from the manager's side. That's how it works, that's the reason why Parker (or artists' managers in general) have a bad reputation among the fans. I think more than 30 years after Elvis' death it's time to take a different look at things and face reality: Most of the time during Elvis' career the two of them agreed in what they did. Would Elvis like to hear us say all those bad and untrue things about the man who made his career possible? The man who made all his wildest dreams come true? The man he trusted in and called his friend? Surely not!
Sean Ryan wrote on February 20, 2009
MW, regardless of what Parker said, he was an illegal alien, that is a fact.He came to the US illegally and couldnt leave the US cause he wouldnt have been allowed back in, that is another fact.He never applied for a passport, that is another fact.You said earlier that cause Parker married a US Citizen that makes him a legal alien, your not serious are you??
MW wrote on February 21, 2009
Sorry, Sean, you're absolutely wrong. The only thing that may be true is that Parker at first entered the United States as an illegal alien - like millions of others did when they left their home countries to start a new life over there some 80 years ago. From the moment that Parker served in the U.S. Army, he wasn't illegal anymore. Illegal aliens usually do not join the army. Got that?Also, when you as a foreigner marry a U.S. citizen, you automatically achieve the status of a legal alien. That's a law in the U.S. - just like in almost every country in the world. Just face the facts and bury that old fairytale. And please forget about the passport crap. It would have cost Parker one phone call to get a passport. Just remember who he was - a famous person and a potent tax payer. One thing is often being forgotten: In 1957 Parker went to Canada with Elvis. So he left the country and came back. No problem. If Parker really were an illegal alien, why didn't they throw him out of the country and send him back home to Holland in the 80's when the newspapers were writing about his citizenship?
Viva wrote on February 21, 2009
Blimey, I wish I had a week to read all the posts here. I don't, so I'll just pipe in with my opinion: On balance, given the information and first hand evidence from those who were there, the old saying "Elvis was a success IN SPITE of Col Parker, not because of him" was a good assessment. The mind only boggles at what Elvis would have acheived had he had a manager who understood his artist and the importance of artistic creativity. Of course ultimately the blame lays at Elvis's feet for not standing up for himself but as has been said here, Elvis and his "advisors" simply lacked the savvy and balls needed to stand up to a greedy control freak like the Col. The Col was an awful manager and an unscrupulous con man who I hold responsible for Elvis Presley's spiral into a frustrated genius and ultimately led to his far too early death. The great tragedy of Elvis' career is that we only get to see HALF of what he was capable of, Elvis didn't control the publishing companies which made sure Elvis only got to hear the songs they wanted him to sing, and Elvis didn't come up with slave-like contracts which obligated him to years of poor quality material. That was the Col's job, and he took the money and ran, regardless of how it effected Elvis. A true scum bag.
KTemple wrote on February 21, 2009
Mw, Elvis did not record everything he wanted. He was only given certain songs and he picked what he thought was the best songs. It is true that Elvis had limited good material (Im not just talking rock songs) in the 70s. This of course is partly due to the boom in singer songwriters at the time. It is not black and white and I have never said anything derogotory about Parker I'm only saying he was NOT the greatest manager ever. That is it, that is all. No amount of us arguing will change anything. I have not said anything untrue as you put it. I have simply given my opinion based on facts. You seem to give Elvis all the credit, in some ways you argue that Elvis was the mastermind, that he had all the control, that it was his decision to make all the movies etc. If so how can you say Parker was the greatest manager? You dont have to answer that! I hope you enjoy the celebrations in Breda if you decide to go.
BeeDoubleyoo wrote on February 21, 2009
Now it's getting worse. Incredibly, the fairytale world in which some Elvis-Fans live. Because of the fanaticism they lock their eyes to the reality and the facts. You can say what you want, these two stayed together for more than 20 years, longer than many marriages. I think both got what they wanted from the agreement and it's why it lasted so long. Got that! ... or dream on!
MW wrote on February 21, 2009
Fitz, I call Parker the greatest manager in the music business because of two good reasons: First Elvis' commercial success which can't be denied or ignored. Even in his "bad times" he was very successful, just consider that. Second the fact that Parker was the first of his kind, just like Elvis was the first real international mega star. Parker somehow re-invented and revolutionized the business (just like Elvis did with music) and has been an idol and a role model for generations of music managers to follow, until today. (One well known example is the Beatles' Brian Epstein who idolized the Colonel.) The way Parker did his job has been copied over and over again ever since. They're still doing it his way today. Why should they do so when that man did everything wrong, as many Elvis fans think? What more can I tell you? As sad as this may sound, from that point of view the manager is even more important than the artist. With a good management, even a mediocre artist can have a successful career. But have you ever heard of a brilliant artist who really made it with a bad manager dealing business for him? No way! He wouldn't even get a record contract.
MW wrote on February 21, 2009
Viva, have you ever heard or read what people from the music business say about Colonel Parker? Did you ever see the documentary about the Colonel in the silver DVD box "The Definite Collection"? Listen to people like Joe Esposito or Jerry Weintraub - they were there and worked with the Colonel. What they say is the opposite of what wrote here. I think they should know better.
Sean Ryan wrote on February 21, 2009
MW, ok cause Parker married a US Citizen but it didnt make him a US Citizen as well.The reason how Parker got into the US Army was cause he lied about being adopted by a West Virginia family at the age of 16.For some reason he kept his past a secret and couldnt leave the US for his past would have been exposed and this is the reason why he never let Elvis tour overseas, cause he couldnt go with him.The '57 tour Elvis did, im not sure if Parker went with him cause didnt Red Robinson say that Parker spent his time in Washington but even if Parker did go with Elvis to Canada, back then you didnt need a US passport to travel to Canada.
Sean Ryan wrote on February 21, 2009
Elvis should have realised there was something not right with Parker when Elvis was in Germany and Parker never once went out to see him.Elvis also seemed more relaxed there , going out to clubs etc where Parker couldnt control him like he did back in the US.When Elvis finished his first engagement at Vegas in '69, Elvis wanted to take a vacation to Europe and Parker put a stop to it.Elvis really wanted to tour overseas and had many bust-ups with Parker over it.Elvis should have fired Parker after he got out of the army if he wasnt gonna let Elvis perform overseas, very big mistake IMO.Blame has got to be put towards Elvis as well, he should have had more control over his career than Parker did.Im not a Parker hater cause he did some great things for Elvis but he certainly wasnt the great manager some think he was. Plus he turned his back on his native Holland so i cant understand why they would want to celebrate his 100th birthday when he didnt care one bit for Holland.
benny scott wrote on February 21, 2009
Hi J.J.J and Sean Ryan, your recations are more than OK ! As for MW : of course you have the right to have your opinion. But the way you write and think and protect Parker brings tears to my eyes ! You know what i'm gonna do ? I'll put a huge picture of him above my bed, light some candles , kneel down in front of his picture and pray for him on bended knees, telling him how much i miss him, while weeping like a child ! Lol.
MW wrote on February 21, 2009
Sean Ryan, you're right, Parker wasn't an American citizen. He never said he was. In fact he was stateless because he lost his Dutch citizenship by law the moment he joined the U.S. Army. But being stateless didn't make him an illegal alien. Having served in the U.S. Army gave him the right to stay in the states legally, so did his marriage with his wife Marie. Also Parker really was in Canada with Elvis, there are many photos that prove that. Only U.S. citizens don't need a passport at the Canadian border. Parker wasn't a U.S. citizen, remember that! Parker also was in Hawaii with Elvis in the 50's before the islands became the 50th state. So he demonstrably left the country a few times and returned. You can't tell about the talks Elvis and the Colonel had together on subjects like career or world tour or vacation in Europe or whatever because nobody was there when they talked, so nobody really knows what was said. So all what we think we know about that is nothing more than a wild guess.
Sean Ryan wrote on February 21, 2009
MW, so how did Parker get to Canada when he didnt have a passport and he wasnt a US Citizen?
MW wrote on February 21, 2009
Who said he didn't have a passport? There are two possibilities: As a stateless person you get a special "stateless" passport issued by the country where you live so you can travel. Or maybe Parker had a green card that allowed him to stay and work in the USA. Or both. Whatever was, one thing is certain: He was NOT an illegal alien in the U.S.
Sean Ryan wrote on February 21, 2009
MW, your reply has just answered why he never let Elvis tour overseas.Another thing that is certain is that he came to the US illegally and faked his name which even Elvis had no knowledge about.He couldnt have got a genuine US Passport cause he wasnt a US Citizen.He couldnt travel to places like Europe,Japan or Australia cause of this.Quite bad management policy if your artist is the biggest in the world.
Steve V wrote on February 21, 2009
To answer the Canada question, I drove to Canada several times in the 70's. Didn't need a passport to cross the border, just an id. After 9/11, that has changed and now you need a passport. My mother-in-law has been in the USA since 1962 from France. She is not a citizen, but renews her green card whenever necessary. She has flown to different countries over the years with her green card. So maybe Parker was illegal if he didnt even have a green card. He would not have been able to leave the country & get back in (not counting Canada)
Viva wrote on February 21, 2009
In response: 3 people saying something nice about the Col doesn't make him Mother Theresa. Who are these mythological people in the industry you speak of MW, who think the Col was great? I take the view of the MAJORITY of people who had dealings with him, who all say not just how awful a manager he was, but also what an arrogant, disrespectful and unscrupulous individual he was also. He was certainly a genius at closing a deal, but the simple and unarguable fact is that all the great deals he made were more for his benefit than Elvis's, and in doing so, any artistic credibility was sold down the Swanny. As the courts said: He was guilty of fraud, overreaching and not acting in the artists best interest, because most people seem to be forgetting, THAT is what a manager is supposed to do: Act in his artists best interest, and the Col failed miserably on that one. Hal Wallis exploited Elvis as much as the next man, and even he likened the Col to the devil.
dgirl wrote on February 21, 2009
Only Gladys had the insight to see what a hustler this man was. Elvis was too young & naive and Vernon was too stupid and only saw dollar signs. But she was overruled and this carny became Elvis' manager. It started out OK and he made lots of money for Elvis in the 50's. But after the Army, the way he signed him to long term movie deals, no personal appearances, thowing away project after project just because he was an arrogant man engulfed in his own legend did Elvis a great deal of harm. What would have been so wrong about that 1962 tour or another Ed Sullivan appearance in 1966 , sort of a 10 year anniversary gig? At a time when Ed was having everyone in pop music on his show, this would have done Elvis a world of good. Shindig wanted him for a 10th anniversary show in 1965. Shindig was the hottest show on TV for pop music then. HOw about a movie script that appealed to people over 13? No more Harum Scarum type roles. So many chances squandered, its insane that Elvis survived it all. This man knew nothing about art only about how to make his wallet as fat as his stomach.
MW wrote on February 21, 2009
Thank you, Steve, for adding some facts instead of the fiction I read here much too often. So people needed an ID or a green card to cross the Canadian border. That means Parker must have had at least one of these. Parker also had a social security number, he paid taxes, and he founded companies. An illegal alien who doesn't exist officially, being registered nowhere, cannot do that. Is that so hard to understand? Although this may sound bitter, we have to accept the fact that the reason for Elvis not touring the world is surely NOT Parker's citizenship or passport but more likely Elvis' decreasing health and his enourmus drug abuse. All of that makes a tour to foreign countries an unforseeable risk. Is it really easier to believe in fairytales when the truth is so obvious? Viva, you're absolutely wrong, please get your facts straight: Parker was SUED for fraud, overreaching and not acting in the artists best interest - but he has never been CONVICTED for anything like that. The lawsuit ended with an out-of-court-settlement after which Parker had to be paid his share of Elvis' income until 1987, ten years after Elvis' death. I think that says all, doesn't it? It is not important if people loved Parker. They had to love Elvis, that's what matters. The manager is not the artist. He has to take over all the negative points to make his star shine even brighter. As we can see now, it worked. Still it's funny to hear that most of the fans who met Parker describe him as a warm and gentle person who cared a lot for the fans. He never treated those people like dirt, as many others in the business do. Just figure this: Thoughout his career, Elvis gave more than 1.500 live performances, he recorded the songs of a few hundred songwriters and lyricists, he sold tons of merchandising, he made 33 movies and more than a dozen TV appearances. That means that Parker had to deal with at least a thousand different people as business partners during his time with Elvis. How many of these people said Parker was a bad manager, an dishonest man or anything like that? I don't know one. Those who really knew him, who made businesss with him, they always state that he was a man of honour, that he was reliable, that he kept his word. You don't find people like that too often in the music industry. Maybe you know that after Elvis' death a lot of artists wanted Parker as their manager which he always declined. Why do you think did they want him? Because he was a bad manager? Surely not! Let's face it: Elvis has never been expoited. He wanted it just that way. If you're really an Elvis fan, don't place your idol under disability.
KTemple wrote on February 21, 2009
MW, first off an ID can be anything, it doesnt have to be a passport, drivers license or a greencard! 2nd, Charles Stone said in a recent Elvis Festival in Ireland that Parker did not have a passport, when questioned why, Stone couldn't answer! I guess you are a Parker fan, you think that Elvis would have gotten nowhere without him. Your arguements in favour of Parker are very weak. You are inconsistent in what you say as well. I'm not going to waste anymore time on this issue. Parker was a mediocre manager, end of story.
BeeDoubleyoo wrote on February 21, 2009
MW, forget it! It's like to explain colors to a blind man. Unbelievable!
KTemple wrote on February 21, 2009
The facts speak for themselves. Paul McGuinness now there is a great manager.
MW wrote on February 21, 2009
Fitz, if you ask me if I'm a Parker fan, I tell you I'm an Elvis fan who knows that a great artist can't get anywhere with a bad or mediocre manager. So I just give Parker the credits he deserves. Sure he made some mistakes, but they don't outweigh the good things he did. Just like Elvis' few bad recordings don't outweigh the great ones. I consider the two of them - Elvis AND Parker - as a team. The most successful team in the history of popular music. Denying that is like saying the Pope is a muslim.
KTemple wrote on February 22, 2009
Ok MW, let's agree to disagree, Its only opinions here. Parker had his good points no doubt but he also made some silly mistakes. Elvis did too, Im not denying that.
MW wrote on February 23, 2009
Sure. Everybody makes silly mistakes. At the end of the day, all that matters in this business (like in any other) is success. The more mistakes you made, the less successful you are. Elvis and Parker as a team very extraordinary successful. So there couldn't have been too many mistakes. That's quite logical, isn't it?
KTemple wrote on February 24, 2009
Their success together towards the end of Elvis' life is hard to see. I don't call repeated tours to the same cities successfull. I know Elvis at the end wanted to do the tours (to pay bills) but Parker should have been seeking out new avenues for money making ventures such as movies, his own tv show etc, nobody can do tours constently for 7-8 years and still be enthusiastic about it.
dbacke1 wrote on February 26, 2009
Wow! This article has really sparked a lot of debate. I guess it's no surprise, because Parker remains a very controversial figure, even though he has been gone for over 10 years now. I wrote the other day and I said some pretty harsh words about the Colonel, and maybe not all of it was warranted. I will give another take, but maybe a little more balanced. Unfortunately, he still comes off as a scumbag in the end!!! There is no doubt that Col. Parker was essential to Elvis' discovery and early success. Without Parker, there probably would not have been an Elvis, at least not one as successfull as he was during those early years. He launched his movie career, which started off great, and he ensured that he lost no ground when he came out of the Army in 1960. So far, so good. However, I think that when Parker noticed that anything Elvis did made money, he couldn't sign on the dotted line fast enough, and the quality began to sag as a result. I can't let Elvis off the hook, either. He was more than happy to accept the roles, and pretty much for the same reason -- MONEY. However, I think Elvis' biggest problem was that he TRUSTED Parker completely, and, of course, to a fault. He also felt a sense of loyalty to him because of what he did for him earlier, and Elvis couldn't bear to dump him, even though there were several documented instances in which Elvis wanted to fire him, but couldn't muster up the nerve. Think about this analogy: J. Edgar Hoover made the FBI what it is today, and he was great initially, but he stayed on way too long, and he became a monster as a result. Many Presidents wanted to fire him, but they were afraid to. Of course, the reasons for not firing him were different, but he is a perfect example of someone who eventually became a pariah, much like the Colonel. I know that a lot of people have written of the brilliant business decisions that the Colonel made during Elvis' career, but you can't deny the fact that year after year of touring the same cities with the same songs and routine during the '70s took it's toll on Elvis, and was counterproductive. Parker killed countless business deals that could have been beneficial to Elvis and his growth as a performer. Everyone says that he wouldn't let Elvis tour internationally because of his drug problem, but he was killing international tour ideas as far back as the early '60s, when Elvis didn't have that bad of a drug problem. Why didn't he step in during the '70s and tell Elvis to take a break from the touring in order to recuperate and get healthy? Why didn't he insist on good quality albums during the '70s, instead of thrown together compilations and sets of songs that were rejected from earlier albums? Don't get me wrong, I love Elvis' songs from the '70s, especially the country ones, but there would have been a lot more great ones if there had really been some attention paid to quality instead of quantity during this time period. As someone wrote earlier, Elvis continued to succeed IN SPITE of Parker, not because of him. Every once in a while, I muse about what I would do if given access to a time machine. There are many things I would try to change, and one of them is definitely doing something to put Elvis back on the right track in the '70s, and watching him hit his peak during that time. Remember, his voice was never stronger than it was right at the end. We deserved to have Elvis for many more years, and I will forever be saddened at what we were deprived of during these last 30 years since his death. Oh, what could have been!!!!
KTemple wrote on February 26, 2009
dbacke1, your are right on the button with this, I totally agree.
Rev. Gerhard wrote on March 01, 2009
I think it's pretty nice talking in a respectful way about Parker. Because Elvis respected him too. But it seems to be pretty amusing too, maintaining that Parker was as a manager big as Elvis as an artist. Yes, I'm sure that they had been friends. Why not. It had been Elvis' nature being abiding. And of course they had a common way and common results. And of course Elvis connected his jump out of namelessness with Parker. But sooner or later Elvis would had made his career with any other manager too. Because his talents had been highly visible. And it's not important if they had paid him for that or that thing 50000 or 30000 $. Of course Parker had a certain feeling for money. In my opinion this had been more or less his only ability besides making fairground's advertising. It was Elvis who made him big and his name immortal. And it's okay. Why shouldn't fall splendor from a star upon his busy staff member ?
dgirl wrote on March 02, 2009
For those of you who have any doubt about if Parker was good for Elvis or not, I ask you to read Steve Binder's book 68 at 40 (I dont refer to this as a Tunzi book!). I've had my doubts about Parker before, but after reading this, Elvis should have been embarassed to have this huckster continue to run his career and make decisions for him. This was his time to see the Col was no longer in touch with reality and to break free. If he did, Im sure the latter part of his career would have been fabulous with a world tour, better material to record from and maybe a longer life. Those grinding tours and grueling Vegas engagements were the result of bad management.
Rev. Gerhard wrote on March 02, 2009
Dear dgirl. Of course you are not wrong. But reading your last sentences you should be asked "why can't you get enough?". Elvis is the king and will always be the king, and he left so much, that we could enjoy and discuss his legacy the next 30 years without efforts. Don't be discontent with him. He did his best.