By James L. Dickerson

Colonel Tom Parker

The Curious Life of Elvis Presley’s Eccentric Manager

Based on unprecedented, original research and interviews with insiders, this authoritative biography of Colonel Tom Parker (1909-1997), Elvis Presley’s lifelong manager, includes new revelations and insights into the music industry’s most notorious and mysterious manager. Investigative journalist and music writer James L. Dickerson looks at topics such as Parker’s illegal entry into the United States, his work as a carny with Royal American Shows, and his management of country singer Eddy Arnold, his partnership with Hank Snow, and how he manipulated Elvis Presley and his family to seize control of the singer’s career.

This book was sold to Warner Bros. for Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley movie starring Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker. A release date has been set for June 2022.


An incendiary, powerful investigative account . . . An explanation, finally, of the twisted, corrupt relationship between Elvis and Colonel Parker.

Joe Eszterhas, Screenwriter of Basic Instinct


This jaw-dropping biography . . . is a model of research, assembled with crafty objectivity and humor.

Hal Kanter, Director of the Elvis film “Loving You”


A rare glimpse into the underbelly of the music biz.

Los Angeles Daily News


[A] stunning biography . . . A sad but enlightening, behind-the-scenes look into the life of the King and the man who put him on the throne.”

Nashville Tennessean

Other Books by This Author

Dixie Chicks

Dixie Chicks

By James L. Dickerson DIXIE CHICKS Down-Home and BackstageIn Dixie Chicks: Down-Home and Backstage, James L. Dickerson tells the behind-the-scenes story of the band, drawing from interviews with former band members, scores of insiders, and the band's enormous Internet...

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Living on Deadline

Living on Deadline

By James L. Dickerson Living on Deadline The Amazing Adventures of a Southern JournalistAt a time when print journalism is rapidly fading away as the primary defender of American democracy, there is a need for a book about the day-to-day life of a working journalist....

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This intriguing, meticulously researched biography of Presley’s Svengali could be a manual of how not to take care of your client . . . Dickerson has painted a riveting portrait of an especially unsavory character.



Dickerson is tough but fair with his slippery subject . . . This is a well-presented biography of Colonel Tom Parker (1909-1997), who, through gall and cunning, created the ultimate celebrity icon. Recommended.

Library Journal


Dickerson has done his homework The wealth of detail that he gathers and lucidly imparts is never less than utterly compelling . . . He skillfully reduces a labyrinthine saga to simple component parts that make it easy to digest [and] impossible to put down.

Mojo Magazine


James Dickerson’s research has confirmed more than I ever suspected. 

– Scotty Moore, Elvis’s first guitarist and first manager


Chapter 1: The Second Greatest Show on Earth
Chapter 2: On The Road With Hank and Eddy
Chapter 3: The Colonel Surveys His Wild Kingdom
Chapter 4: The King Rocks His Way to the Top
Chapter 5: Back From the Brink and into the Spotlight
Chapter 6: Tarred and Feathered With Hollywood Glitter
Chapter 7: Las Vegas Tightens the Noose
Chapter 8: The King Is Dead / Long Live the Manager



James L. Dickerson

After a career as a journalist for three Pulitzer Prize-winning dailies, The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, the Clarion Ledger-Jackson Daily News, and the Delta Democrat-Times of Greenville (MS), James L. Dickerson began a career as a full-time author. His book Mojo Triangle: Birthplace of Country, Blues, Jazz and Rock ‘n’ Roll earned a first-place award from the Independent Publishers Association, and two music-related books, Goin’ Back to Memphis (since republished as Memphis Going Down) and That’s Alright, Elvis, co-written with Elvis Presley’s first guitarist, Scotty Moore, were finalists for the prestigious Gleason award. He co-wrote a second book with Moore titled Scotty & Elvis. This is his first movie rights sale. Two of his books have been translated into Chinese by publishers in China. The Italian language rights to Colonel Tom Parker were sold to a major publisher in Italy.

Dickerson was the editor and publisher of Nine-O-One Network, at one time the third-largest circulation music magazine in the United States, behind Rolling Stone and Spin. The magazine was the first magazine published in the South to obtain newsstand distribution in all 50 states. The magazine also had distribution in most European countries. In Russia, it was read by underground radio announcers who worked to overthrow Communist Party domination.

Dickerson is the editor and publisher of Sartoris Literary Group, one of the most successful non-academic trade book publishers in the South. Sartoris has been licensed to publish the works of William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Richard Wright, Shelby Foote, and others.

As a freelance writer and book critic he has worked for the Toronto Star, Baltimore Sun, BookPage, Good Housekeeping, Playboy, Penthouse, Omni, the Tennessean, and others. A longtime resident of Memphis and Nashville, Dickerson now lives in the Metro Jackson, Mississippi, area.