This Is the Bizarre Reason Elvis Never Toured in the UK

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In the 1950s and 60s, Elvis Presley was one of the most famous entertainers in the world. “The King” toured around the United States, and was always met with crowds of adoring fans.

But Presley, who died in 1977, never performed in the United Kingdom, despite the fact that he had legions of fans there as well.

According to Philip Norman, who wrote the book for a musical about Presley, there is a simple, yet bizarre reason that the musician never toured the United Kingdom.

In a column for The U.K. Daily Mail published earlier this month, Norman claimed that Presley never performed in Britain because of his manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

Norman wrote that Parker was scared that if he left the United States, he might never be able to return.

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Parker, who had received his honorary title from militia in the southern U.S., was actually a Dutch illegal immigrant who didn’t have an American passport, Norman said. As a result, he did not want to risk leaving the country and not being able to get back in.

As Norman put in, Parker micro-managed Presley’s career, and didn’t really understand what made the entertainer so beloved in the first place.

“Obese and cloth-eared, ‘The Colonel’ never remotely comprehended Presley’s gifts, viewing him rather as a catchpenny carnival attraction like the Incredible Tattooed Man or Bearded Lady,” he wrote.

“In common with most people over 30, Parker believed rock to be merely a fad that would disappear in a few months,” Norman added. “He therefore set about watering down a force of nature into a mainstream showbiz personality.”

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Presley did end up visiting Britain several times — first in 1960, when he was returning home after his two-year stint in the Army, during which time he was stationed in Germany.

On his way back to the U.S., Presley’s military plane landed in Prestwick, Scotland, and for decades, that was believed to be the only time Presley went to the U.K.

However, it was revealed in 2008 that Presley traveled to London in 1958. Though he did not perform there, he did see both houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.

Presley was accompanied on his visit by British rock and roll star Tommy Steele, said theater producer Bill Kenwright, as reported by Reuters nearly a decade ago.

But during the 1960s, Presley was never able to return to Britain for any significant amount of time, even as countless fans — including future Beatles members John Lennon and Paul McCartney — idolized the American singing sensation.

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Instead, Norman wrote, “The Colonel kept him in Hollywood, turning out one movie after another at a million dollars a time.”

Norman’s revelations about Presley came days before the U.K. debut of the musical “This Is Elvis,” which the author teased in his column.

“There was a moment in the late Sixties when even The King’s most loyal subjects acknowledged he had been dethroned by young British pretenders such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones,” Norman wrote.

“How he stormed back in a blaze of lip-twitching glory is the theme of a new musical, This Is Elvis: Burbank And Vegas, for which I’ve written the book,” he added.

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Joe Setyon is a deputy managing editor for The Western Journal who has spent his entire professional career in editing and reporting. He previously worked in Washington, D.C., as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine.
Joe Setyon is deputy managing editor for The Western Journal with several years of copy editing and reporting experience. He graduated with a degree in communication studies from Grove City College, where he served as managing editor of the student-run newspaper. Joe previously worked as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine, a libertarian publication in Washington, D.C., where he covered politics and wrote about government waste and abuse.
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