Colonel Tom Parker
An infamous, cautionary figure in the annals of rock-n-roll history, Colonel Tom Parker managed Elvis Presley, one of the genre's most enduring icons, from his humble beginning in 1955 until his untimely death in 1977. Parker had entered the music business through carnivals, which was where he honed his skills at negotiation and, to a lesser extent, flim-flammery; after managing Eddie Arnold and later Hank Snow, he scooped up Presley from obscurity and through a series of lucrative deals with labels and studios, made him the biggest star in the world for nearly 20 years. But in doing so, he neutralized Presley's incredible magnetism, forcing him to record terrible songs for even worse movies while keeping him off the concert stage and away from his fans. Presley became fabulously wealthy thanks to the Colonel, who in turn drew untold sums from his contracts with the singer. Parker's vision for Presley faltered with his physical decline and death in the 1970s, after which he attempted to retain control of the singer's image. He was ousted from his position by the Presley estate in the early 1980s, and lingered for the next decade, the living symbol of the pitfalls of show business, until his death in 1997. Few figures scaled the heights of success with such ruthlessness as Colonel Tom Parker, and fewer still reaped such a terrible legacy from their actions.