Elvis Presley: Why He Never Fired His Manager Tom Parker

by John Jamison

Elvis Presley was many things. He was a man with plenty of redeeming qualities and was adored by millions. One thing he could never quite sort out, however, was his manager.

It’s no secret that Colonel Tom Parker was a bottom-line type of guy. After all, most talent managers are. He started out as a carnival promoter and many felt that he handled Elvis’ career the way one would manage a circus attraction.

Elvis Presley himself struggled with the relationship at times. IMDb reports that the “King of Rock n’ Roll” even wanted to fire Parker on multiple occasions. Reportedly, Elvis would ask his friends to “Tell Parker, he’s fired.” And Parker would simply respond, “Tell Elvis to tell me personally.”

Parker remained Elvis’ manager until Presley’s death in 1977. So clearly the rock star never worked up the will to actually go through with the firing. There are probably a number of reasons for this. But according to IMDb, it was because Elvis just didn’t like dealing with confrontation.

It’s a surprisingly relatable trait for someone so idolized. Of course, everyone is human and Elvis had no shortage of flaws, but avoiding confrontation seems like such a difficult thing to do in the music and movie businesses.

It may not mean much, but Elvis was Tom Parker’s only client. That kind of dedication can go a long way with people.

Elvis Presley’s Manager Made Some Questionable Decisions

One of Parker’s biggest missteps came in 1974 when the manager devised a plan to make money outside of Elvis’ contract with RCA Records.

He cut together an entire album that had no music on it. Instead, it was audio taken from live Elvis performances between songs. In fairness, the rock star was pretty entertaining on stage. But the snippets on the “talking only” album had no context and were a jumbled mess.

Elvis Presley was furious with Parker’s actions. According to TVTropes.com, he demanded that the album be taken off the market.

Evidently, the debacle wasn’t serious enough for Elvis to confront his manager.

Whether he truly wanted to fire Parker or not, death was the only thing that could split the two apart.