Many hated Colonel Tom Parker, the manager of Elvis Presley. Even to this day, it is believed that Tom is the real reason behind the major downfalls of Elvis’s career. It was said that it felt like Tom had a strong hold over Elvis and nothing could have changed that. He controlled all of Elvis’s businesses and was often portrayed in a bad light. In the movie “Elvis” in which Austin Butler plays the titular role, Tom Hanks plays the role of Colonel Tom Parker. So, who is Tom Parker and why is he such an important character in Tom’s life? And how long did Tom live after the death of Elvis?
Who Was Colonel Tom Parker?
Colonel Tom Parker was born Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk on 26th June 1909 in the Netherlands. Tom is believed to have immigrated illegally from his country to the United States when he was only 20 years old. However, Tom always claimed West Virginia, United States to be his birthplace. His real identity, immigration status, and all other information weren’t known until much later.
Initially, Tom was a fair worker who soon joined the industry of music promotion in 1938. Over the period he had been closely working with stars like Gene Austin and famous country singers such as Eddy Arnold, Tommy Sands as well as Hank Snow.
During his career cycle, he spotted the 20-year-old Elvis Presley in the year of 1955. He quickly understood the potential of Elvis becoming a star in the future and became Elvis’s sole representative. Once he started representing, he got a major recording contract for Elvis with RCA Victor.
He fully flourished as a musical entrepreneur as well as a manager to Elvis Presley. After having Elvis’s first commercial breakthrough with the iconic single, “Heartbreak Hotel,” even Tom’s career took off. Undoubtedly, there were major perks and benefits to being the manager of the greatest singer of all time and Tom took full advantage of that.
What Actually Happened Between Elvis And Tom?
Tom was the one who took all the credit for making Elvis the star he was. It was rumored that Tom took over half of Elvis’s income during the period of his early success. So, the numbers were quite high for a music manager to earn.
He was the one who did all the merchandising, appearances, and acting role deals on behalf of Elvis. It is strongly believed that Tom forced Elvis to turn down an overseas tour because of Tom’s status of being an illegal immigrant. So, in the fear of getting exposed, Tom also limited Elvis’s success.
As a matter of fact, Tom was also the one who influenced Elvis to accept military service in Germany in 1958 and also marry Priscilla in the year of 1967. In 1968, when Elvis had his major comeback, he hardly met Tom but still controlled his business.
When The King of Rock N’ Roll died in 1977, Judge Evans made a historic decision of ordering EPE (Elvis Presley Enterprise) to sue Tom on 14th August 1981. Tom then countersued the team and finally got settled in court in 1983 with $2M.
Post this, Tom freed all the Presley audio recordings and visual images and finally terminated his service to anything related to Presley.
How And When Did Colonel Tom Parker Die?
Audiences saw Tom last in 1994. He was severely sick due to diabetes, had gout, and had several health problems. That forced Tom to stay back in his house as he could barely move. On 20th January 1997, after Tom’s wife was startled by a crashing sound in their living room, she kept calling Tom. There was no response and she saw Tom “slumped over in his chair.” The former manager suffered from a severe stroke. But he couldn’t survive this time. The very next morning, Tom died in a renowned hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada due to stroke-related complications. He was 87 years old at the age of his death.
Tom Parker didn’t enjoy a good reputation even after being associated with one of the legendary artists that history has ever seen. The badmouthing continues even after his death. But many truths are still left to be uncovered!
Stay tuned for more updates, Lee Daily.