Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s ultimate confident, former Memphis Mafia member Jerry Schilling, revealed that “The King” was desperate in the 1970’s to finally tour globally. During a chat with Noise11.com, Schilling revealed the moment when things came to head with Elvis and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker — who unbeknownst to all, was an illegal alien from Europe. Schilling remembered, “I was at that late night meeting at the Las Vegas Hilton. Elvis wanted to tour overseas. He wanted to go to Australia. He wanted to go to Japan. The Colonel said, ‘if you go I am not going to go with you.’ Elvis said ‘that’s fine, you’re fired.’ We didn’t know (Colonel was an illegal alien) while Elvis was alive. That came out after Elvis passed away. One of the Memphis Mafia guys called the Colonel and said ‘Colonel, you never told us you were from Holland.’ The Colonel said, ‘well you never asked.'” Due to his lack of citizenship, the Colonel could never travel outside of the States — and because of that, made sure to keep his sole client landlocked, as well.
Schilling shed light on the legendary working arrangement between Elvis and Parker: “I think creatively Elvis outgrew the Colonel and that’s what caused a major conflict. Musically and acting wise Elvis didn’t want to do at 30 or 35 what he was doing at 19 and 20 (nor would anybody else). I lived and worked with Elvis and I was with Colonel Parker one day a week. As a young guy I learned a lot about the relationship between and artist and a manager. The manager must understand the creative needs of his artist. He doesn’t have to bring him Sgt Pepper. That is for the artist to develop and for him to get it done. The artist must understand what the manager needs to do to promote their artistic work. They need to understand each other’s role to make the whole thing successful.”
Schilling said of Col. Tom: “Colonel Parker is the most misunderstood person in the music industry. He was brilliant in a simple way. He could outsmart any mogul or film company owner. Don’t ever say Colonel Parker wasn’t a brilliant guy. Creativity was not his best quality. He was the go-to bad guy. Colonel Parker was an honest guy. I used to dread going to work for him but at the end of the day it was pretty damn interesting. I became very close to him. I was the closest person to him in the last 20 years of his life.”
Jerry Schilling, who went on to become the Creative Affairs director of Elvis Presley Enterprises — was recently involved behind the scenes as a consultant on Elvis & Nixon. He wrote about his life with “The King” in his recent memoir titled Me And A Guy Named Elvis. Schilling, who now serves as the president of the Beach Boys’ Brother Records Incorporated, had previously worked with Billy Joel and the Bee Gees, managed the Beach Boys and Carl Wilson, and told us that although the members of the Memphis Mafia were all close, their main focus was always on Elvis: “I have to say, my focus, day-to-day basis, was Elvis. And the guys, we all played an inner part — we were second tier to ourselves, because everyone focused on Elvis.”
Photo Courtesy of Pulse Evolution Corporation