Cooked the Colonel's Way

Colonel Tom Parker has kicked the bucket, and the original recipe for rock 'n' roll rotisserie goes with him

It's Now or Never: As Elvis sleepwalked through 11 films between 1961 and 1965, Parker paid little heed to the faltering 45 rpm market, once the most lucrative division of the Presley franchise. Eventually, the Colonel noticed a missing lump in his wallet and sprung into action. Parker's plan? The "Gold Standard Series," 12 singles released over five years that consisted of album tracks and outtakes predating 1962 (before anyone even imagined Harum Scarum). Only one in the series dented the Top 10--an unreleased 1960 recording of "Crying in the Chapel," unearthed in time for Easter '65 commerce. By then, the Colonel wasn't too proud to suck up to the Man in the Sky to get a Top 5 hit.

Stuck on You: One reason the hits stopped a-coming was the deal the Colonel made with Hill and Range Music Publishing for Elvis to use its material exclusively. Although the Hill and Range team once included the great songwriting duo of Leiber and Stoller--responsible for "Hound Dog" and "Jailhouse Rock"--in later days, Elvis had to use such tune weavers as Ben Weisman, responsible for more than 50 excruciating Elvis songs, including "Rock-a-Hula Baby," "Do the Clam," "He's Your Uncle, Not Your Dad" and the title tracks for Spinout, Fun in Acapulco and Easy Come, Easy Go. During the sessions for the latter in 1967, Elvis couldn't help but moan to the RCA recording engineers, "What are you supposed to do with shit like this?"

What'd I Say?: Nowhere was Colonel Tom's contempt for Elvis' "dyed in the wool" following more apparent than the day he started selling the souvenir "talking only" album, Having Fun Onstage With Elvis, at the King's live shows. The record consists of all the between-song banter excised from Elvis' numerous live albums, stitched together to make one zonked-out monologue. Come on, now, that's like trying to make a fruit salad out of banana and orange peels.

Viva Las Vegas: The Colonel was a rabid gambler, and it's long been rumored the main reason Elvis played so many Vegas shows at the end of his career was that the Colonel had to borrow a million dollars from various casinos against future Elvis earnings. Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis is not allowed to leave the building!

Doncha Think It's Time: In 1973, the Colonel sold RCA the rights to Presley's master tapes for $15 million. Sound like a lot of dough? Not for all the rights to all the Elvis music. Kaachinnngg! Didja hear that noise just then? That was probably RCA doubling its investment . . . again. How could the Colonel make such an abysmal deal for the Presley estate? Maybe RCA threw in a big mahogany desk.

I Feel So Bad: Literally minutes after hearing Elvis was dead, the Colonel was on the phone with grieving father Vernon Presley, negotiating for Elvis' worldwide merchandising rights. He allegedly made this statement to Memphis Mafia mainstay Lamar Fike: "Nothing has changed. This won't change anything.

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help
Phoenix Concert Tickets

Concert Calendar

  • April
  • Tue
  • Wed
  • Thu
  • Fri
  • Sat
  • Sun
  • Mon