Henry Stone on Colonel Tom Parker: “Smokin’ & Drinkin’ With Elvis and His Crew”
“While I was on the road I ended up in Tampa one day. I ended up in Tampa, Florida, and uh a juke box operator, a guy by the name of Junior, a Jewish guy……Tampa was like a winter carnival headquarters,,,all the carnies used to come and hang out in Tampa. So Junior invited me for dinner one night, “You look like a nice Jewish boy on the road, come over, I’ll make ya a nice meal.”
I said, “Great.”
He said “Do ya mind if I invite someone else?”
I say “No, sure, it’s your house, invite whoever you want.” So he invited a guy by the name of Tom, so we’re sittin talking, and the guy ended up being Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s manager, 50% manager. He says, “Hey you look like a hustler, like a nice young guy. …” He had an artist before Elvis Presley, called Eddie Arnold who was the number one country artist in the country and he managed him, he says, “I’m workin’ dates with this guy and I’m gettin’ beat out from some of these promoters, you look like a cool guy,,,I’ll give you five dates in Florida, see what you can do. ”
I was hustlin’. Ready to try anything. So I got a hold of my friend Manny Brookmeyer in Miami. I said, “Hey, I got this deal, you wanna go in with me?”
He says “Sure.”
So I booked 5 dates: Daytona, Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville….whatever. Five dates in Florida. I hooked up a deal with Purina Chow, they could put up all the signs in the arenas and they gave me all this free advertising, radio, and I sold out in every place and I paid Tom Parker and he says, “Wow! All my money. You’re unbelievable.” He says, “How would you like to take Eddie Arnold all over the country? I’ll give you the dates all over the country.”
I say “The only problem I have right now Tom is I just started my own little distribution company in Florida, and I don’t wanna blow it ya know, so I’m gonna have to give up the deal.”
So meanwhile a couple months later in Variety magazine where they post the dates on who made the money or whatever, he made millions and millions of dollars all over the country yknow, but hey these things happen.
So then later on, about five years later when he became a big man, he was down here with Elvis at the Olympia theater and I got a phone call, he says, “Henry I didn’t forget about ya man.” And he called me up and says “Come on over I want you to meet Elvis and his guys.” So I spent the whole night with Elvis Presley and his crew, smokin and drinkin and whatever we were doin, havin a ball.”
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