View Full Version : Colonel Parker's creative interference

05-29-2005, 01:20 PM
Hi Guys,

I just purchased what I think is a marvellous TV Special on DVD - 'Elvis By The Presleys'. I think the girls done our man proud and I think this special gives a great insight into the legend and the man for young and new fans accordingly.

But, one thing that occurred to me as a contradiction in terms was a couple of the topics covered in the special regarding Colonel Tom himself. It is stated in the programme that the Colonel never interferred with Elvis' creative and productive flow in the recording studio or on stage or on a movie set - this has always been the known case for many years, the fact that Colonel took care of the business and Elvis took care of the music and production.

Well, according to Priscilla, just as soon as she clarified that fact, she stated quite a big contradiction towards it. The story goes that whilst they were driving around in Memphis/Hollywood or Vegas one time, Elvis' new release 'Suspicious Minds' was played on the radio and he suddenly went ballistic! Elvis claimed that the finished master of the song wasn't the intended released version that he produced - it sounded very much different and it had definitely been tampered with.

Anyway, the story goes that Parker had his final say not only on this song but on numerous occasions just before the master songs were released, and once again Elvis was left to pick up the pieces in his own creatively musical soul. The story continues that on such occasions the decision to override Elvis' choice of master was because Mrs. Marie Parker (Colonel's wife) thought that Elvis' voice was too much in the background and it needed to be brought out more!

My question is: Just who in the hell was calling the shots here?! Who was running the show?! Plus, why did Priscilla contradict the original scenario of Parker not interferring with Elvis' creative process - Parker ended up having the final say in such productive projects anyway?!

Jeez, I'm so glad that Elvis & Steve Binder and the team stood up to Parker's deluded vision of the 68 Comeback being a Christmas TV Show!!! I'm not taking anything away from 'Suspicous Minds' it is my all-time fave Elvis song plus went onto become a number 1 Stateside and a number 2 in the UK, and I'm sure that Elvis' intended master version would have hit the same dizzy heights as the master that we all know and love - who knows, we may have liked that version a lot better and perhaps it would have shot to number 1 in the UK...

Colonel Parker?....God rest his soul, but he was a pain in the a**!

Thanks for reading, guys.


Joe Car
05-29-2005, 03:02 PM
Priscilla has mentioned this several times before and Jerry Schilling also said something along the same lines. Schilling I believe mentioned that Elvis played him the acetate back from SM to prove it and it was then that Jerry noticed the difference. Can you imagine a no-talent a--hole like the Colonel tampering with EP's music. A musical genius and he's screwing with it. We all have heard or read the stories about how Elvis for the most part was such a perfectionist that he would do take after take until it sounded right to him. If that was the case, that's when he should have gotten rid of the Colonel.

05-29-2005, 03:50 PM
I'm with you Joe, and I also reckon after Elvis' return to the showbiz scene in 1960 and especially when he first experienced the tampering of his music because of Mrs. Parker - who undoubtedly was a musical genius (tongue-in-cheek) - he should of got rid of both her and her husband.

And, just perhaps he wouldn't have experienced so many negative issues in the mid-60's just like the kind of movies that he made at that time.


05-29-2005, 04:41 PM
My question is: Just who in the hell was calling the shots here?! Who was running the show?!


The Colonel made it quite clear that HE was running the show, even though Elvis was the star!

Of course, there were exceptions to that....like Elvis standing up to The Colonel in regards to how the '68 Special would be done. But, for the most part, The Colonel made it quite clear to Elvis and to everyone else that HE was in charge of Elvis' career! But I don't think it was always like that...

I truly believe that in the early days of Elvis' career, The Colonel really did do his best for Elvis. Signing him to RCA, booking him on all of the popular TV shows of the time, getting Elvis into Hollywood....even taking care of things while Elvis was away in the Army! But once Elvis returned home from the Army, I think that is when things started their downward spiral in his career and The Colonel really started to seize control of every facet of Elvis' career! Locking him into the long term movie deal, forcing Elvis to repeat the same types of movie plotlines over and over again was the first major indication (in my opinion) of The Colonel looking out more for The Colonel than for his star! Being able to churn out 3 pictures a year (and their accompanying soundtracks, of course), The Colonel was able to keep the money rolling in for Elvis...which of course, he was getting a sizeable chunk of! Then in the late 60's, The Colonel truly showed whose best interest he had at heart when he was able to capitalize on Elvis' loyalty by convincing Elvis to agree on a new contract which gave The Colonel a 50/50 split of all profits with Elvis. I'm sorry....but NO manager is worth HALF of all profits (again, in my opinion)!!!!

Then from the late 60's, things really started going downhill in a hurry....of course, I won't go into all of the details on the truly bad business decisions that The Colonel made during the final years of Elvis' life. Suffice it to say, NEA, that by the end of Elvis' life, I feel it was VERY CLEAR who was "running the show" (as you asked in your post)....and sadly, it WASN'T Elvis!!! :'(


05-29-2005, 04:59 PM
Thanks for your reply, Jungleroom - nicely summarized.

I totally agree that the Colonel's best managerial years with Elvis were in the very beginning - the rest of the time is down to pure greed and selfishness, and the fact that Parker relied on his 'musically aware' (?) wife to determine how Elvis' next single release should sound.

Yes, Jungleroom, it is SAD.


05-29-2005, 05:23 PM
I think it is quite obvious now that Colonel Parker could not make a decision about Elvis' music before he consulted his wife, Marie first in order for RCA to release the right kind of sound for the next single or album release.

For example, 'Are You Lonesome Tonight?' - even though it is a classic performance and Elvis purely poured his heart into it - who is the musical genius who pulled the strings in getting him to record that song? Yes, it was the legendary Marie herself!...Colonel, what would you have done without her?!...It also makes me wonder if the master version was the one Elvis decided upon or did Marie change her mind at the last minute when the Colonel asked her?...

Plus, if anybody has purchased and listened to the FTD CD 'Elvis At The International' then it is quite obvious who was pulling the strings - Mrs. Parker was in the audience that night and just out of the hospital too so it was inevitable Elvis had to salute this 'musically aware' phenomenon that made the the right kind of decisions for him and her husband.

This topic I have started has made me realise just what kind of 'Carny Town' Tom Parker came from...

Can you smell something?...I think it's called BULL****!!

05-29-2005, 05:58 PM
Have you had a chance to read the book entitled "The Colonel" written by Alanna Nash? It came out last year, and I bought a copy when it came out. I read the first 4 chapters and then my wife and I bought a house and spent the rest of last year packing, moving, unpacking and remodeling our house. I recently unpacked the box with that book in it, and began reading it from the start again just to refresh my memory. Although I am only about 1/3 of the way through the book, I am really gathering a much more focused perspective of The Colonel and some of the truly underhanded things he did throughout his life, not only to Elvis, but to other people he dealt with before he started working with Elvis. If you haven't read it, I would highly recommend checking it out....as I said, even though I am only a 1/3 of the way through it, the book really does give you a deeper perspective on The Colonel's whole personality!

I agree with you that it is sad that The Colonel and Marie had the final say as to how Elvis' music was released....just imagine how Elvis' career could have developed if only he had never hooked up with The Colonel!!!

Sadly....we'll never know....


05-29-2005, 06:16 PM
Thanks for the info, Jungleroom - I will have to check this book out at some point.

Your other point has also made me think about the wonderful collaborations we have experienced in the world of music and entertainment - Lennon & McCartney, Don & Phil Everly, Simon & Garfunkel and, of course, who could forget - Marie & Thomas Parker!!!

But, in saying that, I think they would be more at home in the category with the likes of Abbott & Costello, Laurel & Hardy and Martin & Lewis - if you know what I mean!...Don't get me wrong, comedy acts are a wonderful institution!



05-29-2005, 06:21 PM

You definitely owe it to yourself to check out "The Colonel" book, especially with the advanced knowledge you already have about The Colonel and Elvis' relationship! This book will REALLY help you see just how underhanded The Colonel truly was and why he did some of the things he did!!


05-30-2005, 02:27 AM
Suspicious Minds was not the first song which got the Special Parker Treatment. Somewhere in 1965 Elvis was called at one of the Colonel's offices where the Colonel told him there were complaints from fans that they couldn't hear Elvis.
Now an important factor in the essential Elvis Sound is his voice in combination with the Jordanaires (and later with the Imperials and The Stamps). Remember that Elvis' first wish was to be a gospel singer.
The Colonel didn't care about those wishes and the first result of the new sound was the "Harum Scarum Album". You hear Elvis sing (very dry and uninterested) while the music seem to come through his headphones. You can hardly hear the band. Later on it towards 1966 it changed a little.

Only during the seventies it seems like Elvis was in full control of how his music had to sound but by then Elvis was so isolated that the wells of good songs began to run dry. People who wanted to write for Elvis like Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen were scared off by ridiculous conditions.
That Elvis was in control was proved by the fact that he send the first master of Today back with the remark to do it again until he was satisfied.

Only the Aloha Album was a Colonel's project. Again Elvis voice was turned up louder.

Captain Elwood David
05-30-2005, 06:28 AM
Only the Aloha Album was a Colonel's project. Again Elvis voice was turned up louder.

EPE has done the same with the serial reissues of the ALOHA VHS & Deluxe DVD sets.

All of the backup singing, epecially Kathy Westmoreland, ....... have been tuned way, way down in the mix. EP's voice is now way out in the front, too.

I personally don't like the muffling out of the backup.

At one point, you get to see EP smile in admiration @ KW's vocal feats, .......... but you can now NO LONGER hear it.

(Can anybody hear that sound ..... ? It's EP turining over in his grave, .......... a-g-a-i-n.)


The Col.'s tradition, marches on, ......... with EPE. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." ;)

.......... and so it goes, indeed ..................

- Capt. "EL."

05-30-2005, 08:57 AM
Well I have the dvd as well and have viewed this . Just to think - The Colonel wanted El to sing xmas songs for the 68 Tv special.
What a gt. mistake that would have been for Elvis career .- think about it . He starred in lousy movies that were not doing too great at the box office and the Colonel wanted him to sing xmas songs and ruin his triumphant return to stage perforamnce - Elvis knew best - what to do.- He took Steve Binder's advice and followedwhat he suggested . i sure am glad he did.-
(y) :cool:
As for the colonel all he was interested was in money to pay back debtors and to casinos.-:angry:

05-30-2005, 09:53 PM

You definitely owe it to yourself to check out "The Colonel" book, especially with the advanced knowledge you already have about The Colonel and Elvis' relationship! This book will REALLY help you see just how underhanded The Colonel truly was and why he did some of the things he did!!


I'd be wary about taking every word in that book as the truth. I believe she credits Mary Smiley as a source in it, and that woman is a spiteful nutcase.

Captain Elwood David
05-30-2005, 11:31 PM
I'd be wary about taking every word in that book as the truth.
Much agreed.


It's a good book, & recommended, .......... but, ......... it does have some perennially reparroted errors & I also don't like the leap that the author takes in accusing Col. Parker of being a murderer on the run. The latter, is a bit much, IMO.

These, as well as other points (pointed out by TJ) ..... do indeed warrant a skeptically critical eye when evaluating much of the info. relayed within that book.

Nash's, "The Col.", ........ IMO did not live up to its hype and was much short on substance in a number of critical areas pertaining to Elvis & The Col.'s "relationship" / critical events in EP's life.

- Capt. "EL."

05-31-2005, 12:51 AM
I'll have to check out that book, Junglefever, even though it will probably stress me out! Parker, what an ole fart. He told Leiber and Stoller that they were getting too close to his boy. Eddy Arnold fired the ole carney, too bad Elvis never did.