Proof Elvis Presley was preparing to tour Europe and Japan before he died

"Elvis on Tour" in San Antonio April 1972 (Texas Elvis Fan Club archives)


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By April 1972, years of tension between Presley and his manager Colonel Tom Parker had built up to an all-time fervor of angry resentment. During the filming of the musical documentary “Elvis on Tour,” Elvis and Parker were seen in the heat of a fierce disagreement in the hallway of a San Antonio. Texas hotel. One police officer assigned to elevator security called it “one vicious battle of words between the two.”

Hilton Palacio Del Rio in San Antonio 1972 (Texas Elvis Fan Club archives)

Down below, while San Antonio celebrated the city’s annual Fiesta party on the River Walk, “Elvis came out of his room in his pajamas and he was not happy,” the officer told his peers later. “I wasn’t quite sure who the big man (Parker) was, but the men around Elvis all moved as far away as they could. One told me it was okay, ‘they both need to clear the air about this.’ I went back towards the elevator but could still hear the yelling.”

Charlie Hodge on stage with Elvis in San Antonio, August 18, 1976 (Texas Elvis Fan Club archives)

The night before, on April 17, Elvis, or one of his “Memphis Mafia,” (entourage) found a bugging device in the limousine taking them to the Hilton Palacio Del Rio hotel. According to Charlie Hodge, “Elvis, by this time things were so bad, that his first thought it was the Colonel’s people spying on him.”

.“Later we found out it was a hidden microphone recording dialogue for the movie ‘Elvis on Tour’,” Memphis Mafia member Charlie Hodge explained to Jack Dennis in May 1976. Cinema Associates, an independent film company from North Hollywood was filming during his San Antonio performance. “But some of us thought Elvis had every right to blame Colonel the way things had been going.”

Elvis was excited about the concerts and the movie. He even considered traveling to the United Kingdom and Japan for concerts. Hodge said there had been talk that “Elvis would someday perform overseas, like maybe Europe, Australia, or Japan, but not until it happens will it happen.”

Colonel Tom Parker (Texas Elvis Fan Club archives)

Hodge attributed the fighting in the San Antonio hotel between Elvis and the Colonel to many reasons.  He thought the leading factors leading up to the tension were the realities of some mistakes and controlling intrusion by the manager’s team. Some of the best successes came when Parker was the least involved or didn’t get his way. What is now termed the “68 Comeback Special,” produced by Steve Binder for a December NBC television program that year, and the “69 Memphis Sessions” with Chip Moman, were incredibly prosperous– even though the Colonel’s meddling forced obstacles and setbacks along the way. The Colonel’s aggressiveness with Elvis had been going on for years.

Elvis mentioned on more than one occasion when some of us were sitting around, that his mother didn’t really trust Colonel Parker and didn’t like him,” friend Arlene Cogan said. “Elvis would dread it when Colonel Parker would come to Memphis—absolutely dread it. Colonel Parker would just take over the house. He would bring in some of his men, and they would man the telephones. I mean, all the calls were screened by his people. Elvis detested this. Vernon would tell us that when Colonel Parker would come to the house and get Elvis locked up for a meeting, that he couldn’t even talk to his own son until Parker left.”

Elvis and Tom Parker in the 1960s. (Texas Elvis Fan Club archives)

By 1972, Elvis was concentrating on making the “Elvis On Tour” movie the best it could be. But he was frustrated with Parker’s insistence to go against the grain of his creativity and talent. Elvis wanted to go to other countries beyond the United States. His father, Vernon, who took care of personal business for his son, began to share his disenchantment about Parker. Eventually, it was discovered that Parker was taking too large of a percentage. He was also limiting Elvis’ access to songs by demanding a share of the songwriters’ publishing, and he set up exhausting concert tours unlike the appropriately scheduled shows other entertainers appreciated.

“Four weeks is a marathon and the repetition of cramming 60 shows into that period can be really monotonous and mind and body sapping,” the late Memphis Mafia member Lamar Fike once remarked. “The biggest disappointment for Elvis in his life was not touring outside the US.”

“When I got older I saw that things were changing between Elvis and Colonel,” Presley’s cousin, Billy Smith said. The Colonel “started picking on the guys, including me, for information about Elvis. Colonel always liked me and my family but my loyalty was always with Elvis.”

Elvis boarding the “Lisa Marie” jet (Texas Elvis Fan Club archives)

“I know that Elvis loved Colonel, but he also had resentment toward him for holding him back on certain things that he really wanted to do,” Smith continued. “One thing was to tour Europe. He talked about it many, many times, and we all looked forward to the day that happened. Unfortunately, it never came to pass.”

In 2015 a document was found that was included in an auction. It proved Elvis was actively planning to travel to England and Japan a year before he died. Presley signed his name to an August 11, 1976 aviation questionnaire on ‘The Lisa Marie,” his Corvair 880 private jet, for $3.6 million of life insurance.

“Elvis filled out the aviation questionnaire in his full name Elvis Aaron Presley and states that he has flown 45 hours as a crew member since buying the plane (the previous year for $250,000),” the U.K. Daily Mirror reported. “Significantly, in response to a question about what countries he intends to fly to outside of the US, Elvis put ‘Japan & England’.”

“He then states that he anticipates to double the plane’s usage from 25 hours a year to 50 and that the purpose of the flights would be business and pleasure.”

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