Posted by: furmanbisher | November 28, 2009

Memphis Fate

This is a little story that has been lingering on my mind for so many years it has a beard by now. It was dredged up by my pastor Sunday morning when his sermon was titled “Thank You—Thank You Very Much,” straight out of Elvis Presley’s entertainment dialogue.

Back when, Early Maxwell was the king of the entertainment world in Memphis. Top of the heap. Any star who chose to bring his (or her) show to Memphis went through Early Maxwell. Tall, bald, humorous, and a good guy and as far as I know, honest as a banker—most bankers.

This is his story, told direct to me, among others, one night during the Masters in Augusta. As Early tells it, he was sitting in his office one day when a rather shy young fellow with bushy hair knocked on his door. Early invited him in and asked him what he could do for him. The kid had a guitar case with him, so Early had an idea what was on the kid’s mind. He was a musician, sang and played and was looking for someone to be his agent. Naturally, coming from around Memphis (via Tupelo, Miss.), he’d heard of Early Maxwell.

Early was busy. He had a big show coming to town, but he took the time to give the kid some advice.

“Look, I’m tied up. I don’t have time to take you on,” he said. “Tell you what. Why don’t you check with Colonel Parker, just down the hall. He’s not every busy. Maybe he can give you a hand.”

Elvis was crestfallen – said he’d do it, but he might be back. He never did return to Early’s office, though. Col. Tom Parker had a gold mine tossed into his lap. Early never cried a tear, although wasn’t too long after, Elvis became Memphis’ “top dog”. But Early still had his gig. Colonel Parker had Elvis, and all lived happily ever after. Well, all except Elvis, who died by his own undoing while still a young man. But that’s another story, and not one for today.


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