Dutch entertainment impresario

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Article URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonel_Tom_Parker#Managing_Elvis Comments URL: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21678846 Points: 1 # Comments: 0
Thomas Andrew "Colonel Tom" Parker (born Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk; June 26, 1909 – January 21, 1997) was the Dutch-born manager of Elvis Presley. Their partnership was uniquely successful, Elvis being an entirely new force in popular music, and Parker an entrepreneur able to market him.

At age 18, Parker had arrived in America by jumping ship, and never held a US passport, even when the 1940 Alien Registration Act would have entitled him to one. This is attributed to his uncertain legal status, possibly connected to police inquiries about a murder in his native Breda. To the puzzlement of overseas fans, he never worked abroad for fear of apprehension, nor did he allow Elvis to tour overseas. While Presley was stationed in West Germany during his two-year Army service from 1958 to 1960, Parker never left the borders of the United States. Parker's Dutch birthplace and immigrant status was not revealed for many years.

A carnival worker by background, Parker moved into music promotion, earning the courtesy rank of 'Colonel' from a grateful singer Jimmie Davis, who had become the Governor of Louisiana. After discovering the teenage Tommy Sands, Parker discovered the then-unknown Elvis Presley, and skillfully maneuvered himself into position as his sole representative with control over much of his private life. Within months, he had won Presley a recording contract with the prestigious RCA Victor record label, made him a star in 1956 with his first single Heartbreak Hotel, negotiated lucrative merchandising deals, made plans for TV appearances as well as a new career as an actor in film musicals.

When Presley was drafted into the US Army in 1958, Parker was shrewd enough to see that military service would boost his image, and made no attempt to stop his posting to Germany. He also judged correctly that public demand would be whetted by his two-year absence, and he stage-managed a triumphal homecoming rail-tour to Memphis.

But the 1960s would impact hard on Elvis'…
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