yesand title Elvis, but the new biopic about the King of rock rather, he has resurrected his controversial manager, one of the great villains in music history. Colonel Tom Parker went down in posterity as the guy who turned Presley into a superstar, but also as the man who controlled and squeezed the myth until his early death at the age of 42.
Elvis himself came to admit: “I never would have gotten this far with another manager.” Merits on which James L. Dickerson disagrees, biographer –but not a fan– of Parker on whose biography the recently released film was based, in which Tom Hanks gets into the skin of this famous colonel who, in reality, never arrived so far in the military and whose nickname was the idea of Jimmie Davis, musician country whom Parker helped become governor of Louisiana.
“I think Elvis would have been a star without Parker,” says Dickerson. He was a really bad guy, a ruthless swindler.” Circumstance that has made him criticize the choice of Hanks for the role because he, he says, he “always plays good people.” And that is what, everything seems to indicate, was not Parker.
Born Andreas van Kuijk in Breda, the Netherlands, in 1909, the seventh of eleven children, the Colonel knew the show business Since adolescence, when he worked in a traveling circus, he was a dog trainer, publicist, representative and promoter.
At the age of 20, he left his country, unbeknownst to his parents, and when he arrived in the United States he became Tom Parker, an identity under which he enlisted in the Army despite the fact that he never applied for documents in the US or had a passport. in his entire life, which is why Dickerson attributes Elvis never touring the world.
Parker met Elvis in January 1955, when he heard about a young singer who was causing a sensation in Memphis. She told him that with him as a promoter she could go much further and quickly landed him a contract with RCA who would be her only client for two decades. A year later Elvis released Heart Break Hotel, it sold a million copies and became a national star.
Parker relentlessly spun and recorded it and perfected the business of the merchandise, printing his protégé’s name on everything imaginable, from butter churns to straw hats. His masterpiece, however, was his handling of Elvis’s military service. His efforts so that, in those two years, no one would forget the idol, bore fruit in multiple releases of old material and a constant flow of news until his triumphant return on Frank Sinatra’s television show for a fabulous fee.
After Elvis was hospitalized in 1973, Parker continued to schedule him non-stop tours and records.
But that was the beginning of the end. Parker wanted to turn Elvis into a Hollywood star by shooting a bunch of sappy, sweetened movies that pushed up the King’s finances, but which, Dickerson says, “did him great harm as an artist.”
Parker also did not realize that the world had changed in the 60s, where people like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were sweeping. Beside him, Elvis looked like a dusty sphinx. To get him back in the headlines, he urged him to marry 22-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu in 1967, who later became the first person to blame her manager for putting her husband’s career at the service of her own interests. .
As an artist, after seven years away from the stage, Elvis returned with a bang in 1968 with a historic television special – a must-see for any self-respecting rocker – which was followed by a long series of concerts in Las Vegas and several musical tours. . The old magic was still present but, little by little, the decline and exhaustion of the King became visible.
In 1973, the year of his divorce from Priscilla, he began to get sick frequently and was hospitalized for abusing the pharmacy. Nothing to stop him from starring Aloha from Hawaii, the first concert in history broadcast globally and seen by 1.5 billion people.
Despite his deteriorating health – he suffered from glaucoma, high blood pressure, liver damage and megacolon… – Parker made him keep touring and recording endlessly until, finally, the excessive consumption of medications severely compromised his health and, in 1977, died suddenly after suffering a heart attack. The music world then pointed to Parker – who also died of heart failure 20 years later – for overexploiting his fragile ward. Accusation that now underpins the film starring Tom Hanks.