Love him or hate him, there is little doubt Elvis Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker was one of the most influential men in music history.
I met him only twice. Once at the Hilton Palacio Hotel on the River Walk in San Antonio and the other outside the Taylor Coleseum in Abilene, Texas. Both times I was scared.
In San Antonio he told us to “move it” when Elvis’ rhythm guitarist John Wilkerson and I were talking near the elevator on the hotel’s first floor. I moved!
In Abilene, I was handing out Texas Chapter of the Elvis Presley Fan Club flyers to those standing in the long entry lines to attend the concert.
“Let me see what you have there,” Parker demanded as he snapped one out of his hand.
With cigar in mouth, he quickly scanned the paper and looked me straight in the eyes. My heart started racing and I could feel my pulse in ears and temples.
“What is this, some kind of a college thing or something?”
“Yes Sir,” I started, agreeing with whatever he said.
He quickly folded it, placed it in his jacket pocket and walked away. For a least a month after that I wondered if I’d be getting some type of notice to halt and desist.
In October 2020, filming is to begin in Australia on a new Elvis biopic with Tom Parker playing the role of The Colonel.
On a hot Palm Springs June 26, in the 1970s Parker decided to give himself an unusual birthday surprise.
He made a call to RCA’s Hollywood offices and demanded to speak with the president of the record division.
“This is Colonel Parker. You know, Elvis and I for the past 20 years have shown great loyalty and love for RCA. We have been reliable, honest and done our best to make our relationship with you one that could be a model. So why, after all I have always done for you and for your company—why in God’s name!—would you stoop so low? This is an obvious attempt to humiliate me!”
The stunned executive immediately assured Parker that RCA had the utmost respect for him, and then carefully asked what happened to cause this concern.
Parker explained that he had never asked anything of RCA, had always been generous with the company, and so on, and really his birthday was not so important. But when someone from RCA had called to tell him the company was going to erect a giant billboard saying “Happy Birthday Colonel Parker, RCA Loves You” on the highway near his home, he gathered some of his closest friends and drove them out to see how much RCA loved him. And what did he discover? No billboard!
Feigning humiliation and tears, Parker hung up.
The RCA executive immediately located a Palm Springs billboard company and ordered Colonel Parker’s message to be put up on the largest billboard the company owned.
He called Parker back, apologized, and explained the billboard would be up by noon.
“I accept your apology,” said the Colonel. “I never asked for anything, you know, but thank you. I feel better.”
Parker then called three friends and they all piled in his Cadillac and drove to the outskirts of Palm Springs. There they laughed convulsively as they watched the Colonel’s giant birthday card being painted by the side of the highway.
Raised in San Antonio, Jack Dennis’ early experiences were as a newspaper reporter and private investigator. With a Texas State University bachelor’s degree, Jack studied journalism, education and psychology. He was the founding vice-president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Association of Professional Journalists at the University. Jack has received numerous awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year from Rocky Mountain Press Association, David Ashworth Community Award, and Leadership in Management.
Some of the people and groups Jack has interviewed include:
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, George Strait, Roy Orbison, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Steve Wariner, Tanya Tucker, Scotty Moore, Fats Domino, Patty Page, Tommy Roe, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Rivers, Charly McClain, Kinky Friedman, John McFee, Guy Allison & Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers) , Randy Bachman (BTO), Jim Messina, Todd Rundgren, Alvin Lee, Gary Puckett, The Ventures, Freddy Cannon, Augie Meyer, Christopher Cross, Whiskey Myers, Sha Na Na (John “Bowzer” Baumann), Flash Cadillac, Jerry Scheff, John Wilkinson, Darrell McCall, and more.
Politicians & News
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Greg Abbott, Rudolph Giuliani, Larry King, Jack Anderson, Tom Bradley, Connie Mack, and more.
Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers, Taylor Lautner, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Selena Gomez, Tippi Hedren, James Earl Jones, James Woods, Jim Nabors, Martha Raye, Rosalind Russell, June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Howie Mandel, Meg Ryan, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Drury, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Alan Thicke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Clint Howard, Tony Sirico, Cesar Romero, Michael Berryman, Tracy Scoggins, William Windom, Warren Stevens and more.
Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Scott Carpenter, Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director), Ed Mitchell, Richard Gordon, Bruce McCandless, Vanentina Treshkova (first woman in space, Russia), Alex Leonov (first man to walk in space, Russian), Al Worden, Dee O’Hara (nurse to astronauts) and more.
Sports: Joe Torre, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Billie Jean King, Manuela Maleeva, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, Shannon Miller, Cathy Rigby, Bruce Bowen, Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, Bernie Kosar, Dale Murphy, Jim Abbott, Dick Bartell, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pastorini and more.
May Pang, Bob Eubanks, Vernon Presley, Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge, Joe Esposito, Rick Stanley (Elvis’ step-brother, Harold Lloyd (Elvis’ first cousin), Doyle Brunson, Kara Peller, Hank Meijer, Norman Brinkler, Stanley Marcus, Jerry King, Mac King, Nathan Burton, Zach Anner, Louie Anderson, Owen Benjamin, Steve Byrne and more.
As head of Facilities for a major retailer (H-E-B Food/Drugs) for 20 years, Jack co-founded Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) and was elected President to establish PRSM magazine. Jack is a writer, speaker, golf-concierge and happiness coach. He has researched and studied happiness for over 40 years.
Jack was a prolific writer for Examiner.com, with over 1,900 articles written in six years. His articles and stories have appeared in AXS Entertainment, The ROWDY Country Music, Memphis Flash, and numerous magazines.
He is author of “Miracles of Justice,” a true courtroom drama novel about social injustice and miracles.