By all accounts, you would think that rock ‘n’ roll icon Elvis Presley was as large-and-in-charge as his music made him out to be.
Realistically, however, Presley was often under the control and influence of his hyperactive manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Many of the decisions related to his professional career went through Parker. In some ways, these decisions didn’t always seem to have his best interest in mind in retrospect.
Parker’s character is often questioned, even by Tom Hanks. The popular actor is going to portray Parker in an upcoming Elvis biopic that is releasing this summer. He called him a “scoundrel” and a “genius.”
Elvis Presley both thrived and suffered from Parker’s guidance. On one end, he helped oversee his success as a Hollywood star and made sure his time in the Army wouldn’t end his career. At the same time, however, it was Parker that kept him from starring in important Oscar-winning movies and from touring around the world. Presley exclusively stayed in the U.S. and did not perform elsewhere.
Elvis Presley’s cousin and close friend, Billy Smith, spoke out about their relationship on his Memphis Mafia YouTube channel.
“Elvis was getting bigger and bigger and The Colonel saw this. Where there was money to be made, The Colonel wanted to be in on it. So The Colonel picked up on this. As far as I’m concerned, to get everything set straight, The Colonel didn’t make Elvis, he helped make Elvis, but he didn’t make Elvis. Elvis was on his way. Now it might have taken Elvis somewhat longer with [original promoter] Bob Neal, but I think Elvis was destined to be as big as he was. But the Colonel, with his intelligence and all…he knew the right people and did it the right way to make big money and so I can’t take that from him,” Smith said.
What Could Have Been For Elvis Presley
For Smith, he believes that Elvis would have made it big either way. It was his destiny, in a way. He also believes that “The Colonel held Elvis back” in later years. He certainly did play a role in launching his career. At the same time, he may have done even more damage when holding it back.
If Presley would have fired Parker, he would have been able to perform all around the world. Also, Elvis could have had roles in movies like “A Star Is Born” and even “True Grit.” He had gotten offers for both, but Parker thought it was best to stick with those cheesy romantic comedy films instead.
Clearly, Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley had an extremely complex, some would say toxic, relationship.
The new movie scheduled to release on June 24, 2022, will focus a lot on this interesting dynamic. Baz Luhrmann is the director and the movie stars Tom Hanks as Parker and Austin Butler as Elvis Presley.