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While Luhrmann claims that his film is not based on the acclaimed music journalists’ 2010 book, he did use research from the Colonel-Presley biography, which is considered one of the most definitive accounts of the relationship between Presley and his infamous manager.
Unlike most books about The King, “The Colonel” investigates how Elvis became such a phenomenon not through the artist himself but through the life of Thomas Andrew Parker, a mysterious figure known for being one of the most controlling managers in music history. Joining Presley in 1955, Parker can be credited with being one of the key architects in Presley’s career.
Nash began her reporting after attending Presley’s funeral in 1977. She was one of the only journalists to be afforded the opportunity to view Elvis’s remains but it was the sight of The Colonel, dressed in a Hawaiian t-shirt and baseball cap at the funeral, that peaked her interest.
In her 448-page tome, Nash uncovers never-before-seen documents that unearth Parker’s biggest secrets, many of which explain the peculiar choices he made throughout Presley’s career. Why did he never allow Elvis to perform in Europe? Why didn’t he help him through his drug and substance abuse? What was with all those mediocre movies? Through masterful reporting, Nash uncovers army records, psychiatric records and even an original police report of an unsolved murder case that all serve to better understand it all. Read the author’s break down of what was fact and what was fiction in the new “Elvis” movie in this recent Variety interview.
The newfound interest in the Colonel makes sense. Luhrmann’s “Elvis,” which smashed the box office this past weekend, follows Austin Butler’s Elvis as he becomes a hardworking showhorse to the Colonel, played by Tom Hanks.
Writing about how the relationship is portrayed in the film, Variety film critic Owen Gleiberman writes: “No matter much he sees through the Colonel’s schemes, he can’t bring himself to quit him. Yet he spends the rest of his life rebelling against him.”
Buy Alanna Nash’s No. 1 bestseller “The Colonel” below: