on 7 April 2015
I was initially reluctant to read about the Colonel because how can I want to be open minded about a man I hate so much for essentially killing the soul of the greatest modern icon we've known, suffocating all of Elvis's dreams and wanting to do everything just for the dollar? Money, money, money. Everything was about money.To be a good manager of an artist, (actor or singer or both), a person needs to have a bit of artistic knowhow aswell as business acumen. Now, to give the Colonel his due and I tried to be as objective as possible whilst reading this book, he was great for young Elvis in the 1950's (although he even intruded on his private life by telling his early girlfriends like June Juanico and Anita Wood that they remain in the background and Elvis should be seen with 'lots of girls' instead) and he was good up until Elvis came out of the army keeping his fame alive during his tour of duty, (although did Elvis really need to do the two years, we ask ourselves, what's wrong with special services?) but it was the silly bikini movies he made Elvis do in the 60's that dashed Elvis's dreams, knowing full well that the young man wanted to develop as a great dramatic actor like Brando and Dean. A good agent LISTENS to his client's dreams and does his best to make them happen. In the early days when he was naive and green, young Elvis looked on the Colonel as a father figure, grateful for his hard work and for making him richer than he ever dreamed, but a creative person needs to feel creative, inspired and fulfilled, not just rich and Elvis's resentment and despondency soon surfaced. It became like a bad marriage in the end with Parker putting Elvis out on the road like a carthorse, just to pay his exhorbitant gambling debts, like the Samual Becket play End Game where two people are stuck together for survival like a prison sentence, or a couple that live together but can't afford to get divorced. Nash has done her research to the nth degree as she always does and is amazingly objective in her writing, which can't always have been easy for her being an Elvis fan herself and we all do have our own opinions of Parker. She paints an atmospheric picture of Holland at the turn of the century and explains how Parker or Andreas van Kujik as he was, escaped an overbearing strict father and a frugal childhood to have a fantasy life in his head which give birth to dreams that fuelled his ferocious ambition, the same ambition that the teenage Presley had years later. One can understand, whether one agrees with it or not, the need for Parker to shun his family ties and reinvent himself in the U S (if he indeed DID murder that woman in Holland) . The author even tells us of the generous and kind little things Parker occasionally did, like giving to charity and his devotion to his wife Marie, to give us an overall view of the man but I'm afraid, the bullying of his staff, the compulsive gambling that pretty much ruined Elvis, because then all Parker's decisions about Elvis's career were based on how much money he could make off him to pay off his gambling debts, and his interference in Elvis's personal life and so on, outweigh them . Even the feigned sentimentality at the end of his life 'Ofcourse I loved the boy' and 'If Elvis wanted to got to Europe or elsewhere, I didn't stop him, we just couldnt find a big enough indoor venue', ( and yet to Byron Rapahel in the 50's whilst travelling, he said 'You know Byron, we're never going to be able to take Elvis abroad to do personal appearances') and 'if Elvis had wanted to do more dramatic films if he'd asked, we 'd have done them' and yet as we all know, Elvis expressed his desire for a serious acting career on numerous occasions like for instance when Robert Mitchum told him to ask Parker about a part in 'Thunder Road' at his suggestion. (It was quashed, surprise surprise.) Evidently directors could see Elvis had potential because the film roles he was offered over the years eventually went to the likes of Brando, Paul Newman and Jon Voight and none of those actors pick rubbish films to do. Alanna Nash has done a great job and I read it in three days, she is unsentimental and I felt she was 'fair' in giving Parker a 'fair hearing' if you will, as if we maybe knew a bit more about him we could understand his behaviour a bit better. So yes, maybe that has been achieved now but for me, this man is still accountable for Elvis's needless early demise and he still has blood on his hands in my view (in the literal sense too if he did indeed murder that woman, hence his whole identity reinvention). He was charismatic and interesting in many ways but not a good soul.He was a dreadful, horrible man and a killer in every sense.. That said, this is a damn good read and a fascinating account of probably the biggest (and most immoral) rock manager in modern history.