As the power behind Elvis’ throne, Colonel Tom Parker was one of rock’s most elusive figures, and EW contributor Alanna Nash spent five years chasing his shadow for The Colonel: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley (Simon & Schuster, $25). Nash details his childhood as Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk in the Netherlands, from which he may have fled in 1929 to escape a murder rap. Arriving in the U.S. and taking a new name, he worked as a carny and learned to fleece an unsuspecting public (he later wrangled a 50 percent commission from Elvis). Parker humiliated flunkies, refused any offers that might challenge Elvis artistically, and ignored the singer’s obvious drug problem. Parker was a hustler and control freak – and thanks to Nash’s portrait, he’s no longer such a mystery.
Posted July 18 2003 — 12:00 AM EDT
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