Peter Guralnick called Parker 'a genius' which is genuinely nauseating. If Parker was a genius, what would that make Elvis, exactly? I remember once, many years ago, someone saying that Mike Appel (Bruce Springsteen's first manager) deserved credit for at least hearing Bruce Springsteen and knowing how talented he was. Miami Steve Van Zandt, who was also present, jumped all over that one: 'You don't get points for recognizing talent like that. If you can't recognize talent at that level, you shouldn't even be in the business. The question is what you do with the talent'.
Compared to Parker, Mike Appel, who merely took advantage of an untutored young man with unfair contracts, was the truly honest man Diogenes sought. The story might have looked different before Elvis died. Parker might have seemed a cunning genius who had kept Elvis in the public spotlight far longer than was 'normal'. But the minute that the probate courts got hold of the Presley estate, that illusion vanished. Parker, it turned out, had not even made great deals for Tom Parker. He not only took an outrageous 50 percent commission on all of Elvis' earnings but when it came to, for example, tour merchandising, he arranged the corporate structure so that Elvis came away with about 20 percent to Parker's 80 percent.
Far from 'genius', he was stupid about everything involving Elvis' future, from the shortsighted decision to tie him to a contract hacking out movies for Hal Wallis at the very moment every other star with Elvis' stature was being unshackled from the studio system, to the pittance -- $5 million -- he received toward the end when he sold all of Elvis' future royalties. Nothing could more perfectly express the degree to which Tom Parker never, for one minute, grasped what Elvis and his music meant to people. To stand that close to the center of such a phenomenon and miss altogether its most important, long lasting qualities requires a genius that is truly rare: I'd have to go out and turn over every rock in my driveway to find its like.
Even then, who knows if I'd succeed? Snakes hibernate.
Colonel Tom Parker talks about Elvis
Interview with Loanne Parker
I Met The Colonel
Parker's shadowy past news to Memphis Mafia
Review : The Colonel Book
Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's Manager, Dead at 87