Everything Elvis Gets Wrong About The True Story

As the film begins, Elvis has already cut his first hit record, “That’s All Right, Mama,” but it’s his appearance on the syndicated country music radio show “Louisiana Hayride” that makes him a star and brings him to the attention of former carnival barker turned music promoter Colonel Tom Parker. The headliner on “Hayride” is longtime country star Hank Snow (Luhrmann regular David Wenham), who is aghast at the way Presley gyrates in front of the crowd. Later, when Parker convinces Elvis to strike out on his own, Snow seems all too eager to see the young man gone.

Snow’s reaction works as a symbol of how the musical establishment of the day was threatened by Presley specifically and rock and roll in general, but in real life Snow was no prude. Both he and Parker saw the moneymaking potential in Elvis early on, and the two in fact co-managed Presley’s career for a short time. As his son Jimmie Rodgers Snow noted years later, Snow had every financial reason to make Elvis as successful as possible, even allowing Elvis to close out their shows.

Snow’s exit from the Elvis Presley story in real life came at the hands of Parker, who, according to biographer James Dickerson, used Snow to sweet-talk Presley’s family into signing a new contract before cheating Snow out of his share. “Hank Snow said that Parker was the lowest human being that had ever walked the Earth,” Dickerson told the New York Post in June 2022.

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