IF THE COLONEL WANTED IT, ELVIS DID IT.Byline: Fred Shuster Staff Writer
With his famous Memphis Mafia The Memphis Mafia was the nickname for a group of friends, associates, employees and "yes-men" whose main function was to be around Elvis Presley from 1956 until he died. Several filled practical roles in the singer's life. entourage, Elvis Presley was surrounded by rascals. But perhaps the biggest rascal in the King's court was the man known simply as the Colonel - the former carny car·ny also car·ney
n. pl. car·nies also car·neys Informal
1. A traveling amusement show; a carnival.
2. One who works with a carnival. who as Presley's manager seized control of the rock 'n' roll rock 'n' roll: see rock music. icon's career.
The Colonel was the self-awarded appellation ap·pel·la·tion
1. A name, title, or designation.
2. A protected name under which a wine may be sold, indicating that the grapes used are of a specific kind from a specific district.
3. The act of naming. of Tom Parker, a sharp-eyed entrepreneur who never knew much about music and cared for it even less. But early on, the hard-nosed wheeler-dealer spotted the young Presley's ambition and charisma.
Parker, who managed the King for 22 years, did three crucial things for Elvis: He negotiated a buyout of the rocker's contract from Sun Records in 1955 to RCA See RCA connector and video/TV history. , then the largest label in the world. He struck a publishing agreement for Presley's music. And, most importantly, he helped work a deal to place Elvis on national television, making the singer an overnight star.
``He was a strange guy,'' recalls Sam Phillips, who owned the Sun label that released the first and most influential Presley records around 50 years ago - and unloaded the singer's contract for $35,000. ``He probably knew right away he'd stumbled on a gold mine when he got hold of Elvis.''
After Elvis' TV success, Parker wasted no time exploiting the opportunity. A wave of Elvis products - lipstick, perfumes, towels, pajamas pajamas
pajamas npl (US) → pijama msg; piyama msg (LAM - hit store shelves and sold quickly.
Meanwhile, the savvy promoter kept a lid on Presley's live appearances, carefully guarding against overexposure overexposure
too long an exposure time or too high a milliamperage causing too black a picture, loss of detail and some anomalies of translucency. . With cash the goal, Parker created two publishing companies for Elvis that demanded composers share their royalties with the singer.
That the quality of the King's recorded output declined considerably as a result mattered not at all. Record sales were up, leading to Parker's next target - the movies.
Presley wanted to plan out an acting career and judge offers on artistic merit. The Colonel, naturally, convinced him to cash in on his stardom with a series of 31 low-budget, low-quality musicals.
In 1967, Parker persuaded Elvis to hike his management fee from 25 percent (already unusually high) to a roof-raising 50 percent. In 1973, he convinced Elvis to sell his entire back catalog of singles and albums to RCA for a paltry $6 million - with the Colonel pocketing half.
As Presley decayed physically, artistically and financially, Parker stood firm, booking tours and personal appearances to the bitter end to the last extremity, however calamitous.
See also: Bitter . After Elvis' death in 1977 (providing yet another opportunity for Parker to rake in millions), the overweight, cigar-chomping Colonel continued to mind the store, leading to a legal battle with the estate. Parker, who died in 1997, was eventually found lacking in his administration of Elvis' business affairs.
Today, observers believe Parker mismanaged Elvis' career. But all agree the colorful huckster's early deal-making laid the groundwork for Presley's big breakthrough.