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Elvis on the Rise

The Man Behind Elvis Presley: Colonel Tom Parker

Colonel Tom Parker was born Andreas van Kuijk in the Netherlands and arrived in America in 1929, enlisting in the U.S. Army as Andre van Kuijk. That he could get into the army without a birth certificate showed the Colonel's persuasive abilities, which later would be useful to him in selling his “product,” Elvis Presley. Still, some say that it was because the Colonel was in the country illegally that Elvis never toured outside of the United States.

When he got out of the army, he changed his name to Tom Parker and worked in carnivals and as a “chief dogcatcher,” he told people later. In 1948, the governor of Louisiana gave Tom Parker an honorary title of “colonel.”

Elvis said of his relationship with the Colonel: “We're the perfect combination. The Colonel's an old carny, and me, I'm off the wall.”

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Musician BiographiesElvis PresleyElvis on the Rise - Good-bye To Sun, The Man Behind Elvis Presley: Colonel Tom Parker, Recording At Rca