I Met The Colonel (Elvis Presley's Manager, Colonel Tom Parker)
July 20, 2000 - 1:58:00 PM
Lee Gordon, Promoter, Australia
You may well ask 'Who is Lee Gordon?' Well, I'm about to tell you all about him and his association with Elvis Presley.
Lee Gordan came to Australia and started business around 1954. He came from the United States of America and it was not long before he bought the biggest names in the music world to our shores.
He always returned to the USA hoping one day to bring Elvis to these shores.
As we know that never happened. But one thing did - he toured Elvis twice for Colonel Parker, once through Canada and once through the United States. Below is an article that was written by Lillian Roxon after she met Lee Gordon and the Colonel for breakfast in Hawaii in 1959.
I Met The Colonel by Lillian Roxon, September 9, 1959
When Elvis Presley sings in Australia next June, chances are the man you buy your programme from at the entrance will be Colonel Tom Parker, his business manager.
NO KIDDING. This man who is the power behind the Presley throne likes nothing better than to get out there with the crowd before the show (wearing an open-necked sports shirt) and hock programmes.
People like to say, 'I bought my programme from the Colonel', Parker told me over Honolulu's Hawaiian Village Hotel. I was munching toast and marmalade with the Colonel and Lee Gordon (we are all three of us staying at the hotel), who came to Honolulu to negotiate the 300,000 dollar deal to get Elvis to Australia for five shows next year. What sort of man is Colonel Parker, manager of a show business 'great' a man who earns thousands of dollars a week yet sells programmes at the door?
Over coffee and scrambled eggs, he told me a bit about himself ... About the time he bought 900 pairs of binoculars from Army surplus for 90 cents a pair and sold them at a dollar each (10 cent profit) at the back of the auditorium. 'They had just plain glass in them, but they looked good' he admitted.
What does he do during Elvis' shows? 'Well mostly I count the money after I've sold the programmes' he said.
But Colonel Parker refuses to be called an entrepreneur -- though he's probably the worlds most successful showman. 'Entrepreneur's wear tuxedos and the only time I wore one was when I had to wear one as a waiter' he said. 'I rented one for 10 bucks, got 15 bucks for the evening's work, so I made five bucks profit'.
Does the Colonel think Elvis will marry soon? 'Honey don't ask me ... I only handle business. There is nothing in his contract about his private life - I mean that'.
The Power Behind Elvis
We ordered more scrambled eggs (they serve them with an orchid - just for decoration.)
I want to know who discovered Elvis. The Colonel explained, 'Hundreds of people claim they did, but actually, it was Sam Phillips of Sun Recording, who heard his first record'. 'I saw Elvis again and again and I couldn't see what he had, but the public could see it and I knew they were right -- they always are'.
'Elvis', declared Colonel Parker, 'is a courteous and gracious boy, He never called me anything but Colonel and he always called Lee, Mr. Gordon'. 'When he signed a contract with Lee for an appearance in the States, he said, 'That's a powerful lot of money, Mr. Gordon, I won't let you down'.
Article by Lillian Roxon, September 9, 1959 - Supplied by Bob Hayden.
Interview with Colonel Parker
Andreas van Kuijk - Colonel Tom Parker
Interview with Loanne Parker
Photos - Colonel Parker and Elvis Presley
Photos - Colonel Parkers Birthday on the Set of the '68 Special
Elvis Presley: Multnomah Civic Stadium Portland: September 2, 1957
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