A fresh biography of legendary entertainment manager Colonel Tom Parker, with a contrarian and corrective point of view.
Colonel Tom Parker, often reviled in his time, led the strategy from the earliest days of Elvis's career. Together, they built the most legendary partnership in show business. For the first time, Colonel Parker's story is told by an insider, Greg McDonald, who worked under Parker for years. Never-before-heard stories of Parker's collaboration with Elvis reveal the man behind the legend and the strategies that made Elvis a commercial groundbreaker.
Ingrained lore has it that Parker took advantage of "poor country boy" Elvis to sign the singer who became "The King". But Elvis and the Colonel shows that Elvis was not foolish when it came to business arrangements. This book is full of stories of innovations Parker made with his star client, including:
--ingenious merchandising (eg, selling both "I love Elvis" and "I hate Elvis" buttons)
--licensing and branding, from suits to toys, ashtrays to guitars
--establishing The King as an artist-in-residence in Las Vegas
--creating televised concert events, like Elvis' Christmas special
Many of the practices Parker established are still deployed today by most major agencies. Parker's experience as a carny and an immigrant shaped his management style when he was at his peak, showing how he adapted big top practices to the big time. The heart of Elvis and the Colonel is the long, strong, warm and complex relationship between two iconic men.
Greg McDonald is an entertainment producer who got his start in show business with Colonel Tom Parker, who knew him when he was a teenager. He managed Ricky Nelson for seventeen years, ran Sonny Bono’s mayoral and congressional campaigns, and was president of Transcontinental Records (Backstreet Boys, NSYNC and O’Town). He’s also produced several feature films, television series (Making the Band) and large-scale concerts. McDonald manages Colonel Tom Parker’s show business assets, including his name, likeness and image. He resides in the Palm Springs area with his wife Sherry.
MARSHALL TERRILL is a veteran film, sports and music writer and the author of more than 30 books. They include best-selling biographies of Steve McQueen, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Billy Graham, and Pete Maravich. His book, Steve McQueen: The Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon, is in development to be made into a feature film. He also executive produced the 2017 feature film documentary, Steve McQueen: American Icon and the 2022 documentary Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon. He resides in Tempe, Arizona, with his wife Zoe.
"This book successfully explodes the myth of Parker as a manipulative puppeteer by portraying him as a shrewd but fair, loyal, and hardworking marketing innovator." - Library Journal
"An admiring defense of the man behind King Elvis’ throne." - Kirkus
“Addictive behind-the-scenes account … this will more than satisfy fans hungry for insight into Elvis and those in his orbit.” - Publishers Weekly
“This is a no-brainer for anyone who counts themselves among the legions of Elvis fans, who’s been to Graceland multiple times, and has a lifetime pass to impersonator festivals. Get Elvis and The Colonel the next time you leave the building.” - Terri Schlichenmeyer,