Mar 072011

Now or never?

You’ll have to excuse me for raising this odious question, but in the interest of complete honesty and for the good of rock ‘n roll, here goes:Knowing what you know about Colonel Tom Parker‘s influence on Elvis Presley and, possibly, the state of American rock ‘n roll (eg, RTH World Cup of Rock ‘n Roll results), if you could go back in time and meet the Colonel in a darkened alley before he ever met Presley, would you—for the good of rock ‘n roll and no other reason—”off” him then and there, or would you wait a few years, until Elvis was returning from his military service, and take your chances then?


  19 Responses to “Time Machine: The Dreaded Colonel Tom Parker Question”

  1. My gut reaction would be to immediately terminate the Colonel with extreme prejudice, but giving it a moment of thought, I’d be too afraid of some “Butterfly Effect” scenario coming to pass from my tinkering with history, and things would end up much worse than if I’d left him alone…..and it would be all my fault. Nah, I ultimately choose not to meddle in “God’s domain”…..but if I were to do so, I’d garrote the filthy swine before he ever came within a hundred miles of The Memphis Flash.

  2. shawnkilroy

    like a drug dealer or a CEO, there’s always another huckster waiting to fill the shoes. i firmly believe that if the Col was taken out, that The King would have gravitated toward some other charlatan. it was his destiny.

  3. BigSteve

    And there’s always the chance that destiny was on Parker’s side, and if he didn’t hook up with Elvis he might have made Pat Boone or somebody else The King. It sounds like a Philip K. Dick novel.

  4. I got the strong impression from the Guralnick book that the Colonial was the man responsible for booking Elvis into one crummy movie after another all through the 60’s. He released 15 soundtracks and only 4 studio albums between 60 and 68. Maybe El needed the Col. to get beyond Memphis in the 50’s but I’d knock off Parker in 1960 and take my chances with the butterfly effect to see what Elvis could have been were he not tied with a golden chain for the duration of the 60s.

  5. I would never off the Colonel, else we wouldn’t have Having Fun With Elvis On Stage, and then a string of bootleg offshoots of it.

    I dunno, though. I’m not sure Presley could have done much after The British Invasion. And by that I mean just keep attention turned on him regardless of what he was doing. “Such a Night” from Elvis Is Back! still sounds fresh and exciting, but then that was pre-Invasion as well.

    Even if he could have done a couple solid albums, by the time ’66 and ’67 rolled around, I think he would have been “lost” no matter what. The guy was probably not going to turn into a psychedelic rocker, although that would be interesting to hear. But then again I don’t think his buddies and yes-men would have ever gone along for that ride, keeping E.P in check. I think Elvis’ situation was always restrained by his inner circle, not just Colonel Tom.

    That he had his big comeback in ’68 and then promptly trotted off to Vegas to reap fortunes with the dinner crowds who were alienated by the hippies and freaks only a short time prior makes sense in an Elvis World sort of way. The guy played to his strengths. He wasn’t risky and his fans knew that he’d offer up “clean” entertainment and maybe even throw in some martial arts moves as well.

    Lou Reed should have invited Elvis to tour with him in ’76 when he had all his TVs on stage so El could shoot them out. Now that would have been a show.

  6. I would have offed him after he got back. I agree that the risk on unintended consequncesis too high if he got killed off at the beginning.

    Killing him in ’61 would have least allowed Elvis to tour outside the US (no more visa problems for the Col) and that may have opened The King’s eyes. Imagine if it was The Beatles opening for Elvis in 1962 in his UK tour instead of Roy Orbison!

  7. Didn’t any of you guys ever watch The Twilight Zone? Tampering with the past is just *never* a good idea!

  8. alexmagic

    I wait until Elvis has finished his service, adding military training to his innate ka-ra-te skills, and send him back to kill Hitler. I then return this Elvis to his original timeline (where Hitler was never killed by the King, because one cannot change the past, only create branching futures), where a more sober, battle-hardened EP still ends up making all of his shitty post-Army movies anyway, because he’s not passing up the chance to put the moves on Ann-Margret and Batgirl.

    King ain’t made of stone, man.

  9. The Colonel dies of a heart attack in 1960. Elvis will then struggle a bit and still do a few bad movies. He would eventually be given a TV show called The Elvis Presley Variety Hour and will feature Sonny and Cher as his sidekicks. This will establish a long friendship between Sonny leading to Elvis collaborating on Pammie Is On Bummer. The show will endure till the mid-70’s.

  10. I take a different approach… I follow Parker and find EP in 60-61 or so and kill him. We keep EP’s 50s stuff and delete the 60s crap. His death raises his legend even higher.

    But, if I’m time travelin’ … I’m tracking down Buddy Holly and keeping his ass off that plane!

  11. BigSteve

    You’re forgetting that Elvis experienced a recording renaissance in 1969-70. Suspicious Minds, Kentucky Rain, In the Ghetto were all recorded after the great ’68 TV special.

  12. I’d watch the movie about Elvis taking out Hitler!

    I think there was enough respect for Elvis that the 60’s songwriters would have kept him in good material. Could you imagine if Paul Simon, John + Paul, Ray Davies, Carl Perkins, Brian Wilson, Pete Townshend, Dylan etc had been allowed to write for The King instead of the (mostly) crap that he had to work with post Hound Dog/Heartbreak Hotel? John Fogerty alone could have kept him in songs. Who Will Stop The Rain? beats Kentucky Rain every time.

  13. I don’t like any of his movies and there’s far more dreck than good stuff but there are some undisputed gems in his post Army catalog. I think his former greatness and good/crap ratio is causing some to overlook stuff like Little Sister, Marie’s the Name, Devil in Disguise, Burning Love and Suspicions Minds. If that were the extent of his recorded output, he would still be pretty awesome.

    I agree that Elvis would have needed some Colonel-type Svengali as a manager eventually but it would have been interesting to see him with someone who could have exploited him in a more interesting way.

    But, if we kill the Colonel, would Elvis have ended up in a jumpsuit? As absurd as 70’s Vegas Elvis is, the world would be a bit dimmer without him.

  14. If I could hop into our RTH Time Machine and move into the future I could assure you that future generations would appreciate the thought Townsfolks are putting into this proposed hit.

  15. alexmagic

    You sure you could take the King? I’d be afraid that you’d only end up getting yourself killed, thus giving a now understandably paranoid Elvis access to a working time machine.

  16. “a now undertandably paranoid Elvis access to a time machine”

    Made me laugh out loud.

    However, I can assure you I would succeed.

    I’d also stop on my way back and pick up ’72 Keef and turn him loose on 1961. That could be interesting.

  17. “…someone who could have exploited him in a more interesting way.” = Andrew Loog Oldham?

  18. ladymisskirroyale

    Right! See the butterfly effect.

  19. I tried to warn them at the beginning of this thread, ladymiss…but, did they listen? This whole thing is going to inadvertently lead to the ascension of Steven Seagal, Bruce Willis and Jim Belushi as the defining musical forces of their era….I can just feel it! They’ll be no joy in saying, “I told you!” when those terrible days are upon us.

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