Every reasonably well-known personality today has a manager who takes care of business affairs. Many of them are responsible for the fact that stars have only reached the top. The prototype of the rock star manager first appeared in public in the 1950s. Colonel Parker became known as the manager of Elvis Presley because he turned the driver into a star. But his reputation was far from good.
He was born under the name Andreas Cornelius van Kuijk in the Netherlands. In 1929 he immigrated to the USA and initially worked for a fair troupe. A little later, he joined the army. There he gave the name Tom Parker at the draft. In this way, he concealed the fact that he had immigrated to the USA illegally. The later manager denied his origin for many decades and claimed to come from West Virginia. It was only in the 1940s that Colonel Parker got into the music business. He initially took care of Minnie Pearl, Slim Whitman, Hank Snow and Eddy Arnold before signing a first film star with Tom Mix. After he had carried out a successful election campaign for the then governor of Louisiana, the latter awarded him the honorary title of Colonel.
50 Percent Of Elvis’ Income
In the mid-1950s, he recognized Elvis unique talent and signed him. With that began the incredible rise of Elvis. Within a single year, both were millionaires. Parker took over the business part and steered the singing and film career. For this, he received a commission of 25 per cent. Artistically, however, the Colonel had nothing to say. At the first low point of his career, Elvis extended his manager’s contract and granted him further investments. The King promptly celebrated its significant comeback in 1968.
The manager knew how to use the newly developed youth culture for himself and his clients. His talent was to turn art into cash. His ideas set standards. In the end, Parker took 50 per cent of all Elvis revenue. He was notorious for his business acumen and authoritarian negotiating style. The Colonel constantly opened up new sources of income. He was the first to recognize the possibility of positioning the singer as a film star and making even more money.
That started already during Elvis’ army time. Parker had the singer pre-record songs and then released them every four months. Anyone who wanted a photo of Elvis in uniform had to pay. The famous shows in Las Vegas were just as much of an idea as the 31 films by Elvis. The Colonel stood by the greatest singer of all time until he died in 1977. Only two days after his death, he persuaded Vernon to sign the same contract with him as with Elvis Presley. But the collaboration was short-lived. Since Parker had already sold the song rights during his lifetime, the Elvis estate got into touble with bankruptcy. The family fired Parker. He died at the age of 87 in 1997 in Las Vegas, the city that will forever be associated with Elvis Presley’s name.