Excerpt from Chapter One
To a first-time visitor, the town of Breda, Holland, is a picture postcard of European charm and character. The prettiest metropolis in Noord Brabant, Holland’s largest province, which stretches from Zeeland, a large Delta area opening on the North Sea, to within three miles of the German border, Breda was originally built as a strategic fortress at the convergence of the Mark and the Aa Rivers. The town now boasts all the ultra-modern conveniences and facilities as a commercial and industrial center, but the remnants of the wall that surrounded the city at the beginning of the 14th century, the glassy canals that run all through the town, and the old, ornate architectural facades, serve as reminders of its past.
Today, the van Gend en Loos building at Veemarktstraat 66, for example, houses an upscale menswear shop, Joep Krusemeyer Herenmode. In the late 1980s, the structure was targeted for demolition, but saved because of its historic significance. Having survived some 300 years, the building remains one of the six oldest in Breda. It was here that the man who would later call himself Colonel Tom Parker was born.
“Addictively readable… A riveting rock and roll mystery.”—People
“Ranks alongside Fred Goodman’s The Mansion on the Hill and Frederic Dannen’s Hitmen as a classic of music industry reporting.”—Billboard
“Authoritative… a celebration of a gargantuan character, a man who toggled to such extremes of cruelty and charm that he seems more fiction than flesh… Nash is a fine guide to this supersized personality. During his life, the Colonel worked hard to cover his early tracks or obscure them in mythology, and the author clears the brush better and more thoroughly than it has ever been cleared before. She spent hours with Parker late in his life and empathizes enough with the rascally codger to capture his ample charms.”—The Washington Post
“Using the cunning of a detective and the straightforward prose of a journalist, Nash, to the delight of Elvis lovers everywhere, answers some lingering questions while posing a few new ones about the man who made the King and then stole his crown.”—Publishers Weekly
“A commendably temperate and serious treatment of a story that could have tempted a lesser writer to sensationalism… Nash tells in unprecedented and meticulous detail the full story of Parker’s real history and his audacious posing.”—David Hajdu, The New York Review of Books
“Nash pursues her quarry relentlessly from his erratic youth in Holland through his spectacular rise to power and wealth in the United States to his death and cremation… No one knows American country music better than Alanna Nash. No one is such an indefatigable researcher and writer.”—Louisville Courier-Journal