Elvis Presley, widely dubbed ‘The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’, has been dead for close to 50 years – but his influence is still felt around the world even today.
Throughout his illustrious career, the global icon had been desperate to embark on international tours and travel… But he sadly never made it happen, and the heartbreaking reason why will horrify you.
In 1972, ahead of a highly anticipated Madison Square Garden concert, Elvis revealed his two biggest career goals: make non-musical movies to show his acting abilities, and to travel and tour overseas.
And while Elvis had some pretty major opportunities to do both (including an invitation from The Queen to perform in London), there was a significant roadblock standing in the way of these big aspirations – his manager, Colonel Parker, a complex figure known for his questionable practices, including mysteries about his background and a shady past.
Colonel Parker’s role in Elvis’ career has been contentious, with Dick Clark, the host of American Bandstand, once recalling (via Express): “Parker’s handling of the man was as bad or worse than his management of Elvis’ business affairs. He kept him in a cage like an animal. He trotted him out like a trained bear.”
Parker’s controlling influence has long been linked to Elvis’ decline in the mid-1970s, contributing to unhealthy behaviors like compulsive binge-eating and addictions.
Priscilla Presley, Elvis’ former spouse, acknowledged that it was his unhappiness with the repetitive movie musicals forced upon him by Parker that triggered the ‘Jailhouse Rock‘ singer’s downward spiral.
The relationship between Elvis and Parker has often been described as one marked by manipulation and control. Despite a famous image of Elvis pointing a gun at Parker, it was often Parker who wielded the metaphorical power over Elvis, squashing his creative desires and limiting his opportunities.
Parker’s financial arrangements also weighed heavily on Elvis, with the manager managing to wrangle his way into a substantial 50% share of revenues. This far surpassed industry norms, which would have sat around 10%, according to the New York Post.
Parker’s ability to propel Elvis to global stardom was evident, but his controversial tactics also hindered Elvis’ potential – meaning that the insanely popular musician was never able to make an international tour happen.
In fact, it has been suggested that Parker – who originally came from the Netherlands and was potentially tied to a violent murder in the country in 1929, per Smithsonian magazine – had a questionable immigration status in the US, which may explain why he and Elvis never made it overseas.
Elvis’ shock passing in 1977 marked the end of an era – though, Parker’s influence continued well after this, as he had sold the rights to Elvis’ early recordings and left a legacy intertwined with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
While many could argue that Parker contributed to Elvis’ fame, it’s also true that he highlighted the dark side of the entertainment industry, with his control and financial demands casting a shadow over the Elvis’ once-promising career.
What do you think about Elvis’ relationship with his manager? Let us know in the comments!