Why Elvis Presley's Manager Locked Famous Songwriters in a Room

Elvis Presley’s life would have been much different without his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Parker was a great businessman, however, he overstepped his boundaries by having control over the artistic side of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s career. Here’s why he once locked two songwriters in a room.

The minds behind some of Elvis Presley’s biggest hits

Firstly, a little background. According to Priscilla Presley, Parker said he’d control the business side of Elvis’ career while Elvis would have control over his art. This isn’t what actually happened. Parker had significant control over Elvis’ music. 

Other people who had an input in the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s output were Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. They wrote some indelible songs like “Hound Dog,” “Trouble,” and “Don’t.” During an interview with Tablet Magazine, Stoller revealed he and Leiber wrote “Jailhouse Rock” and other songs from the film of the same name under Parker’s aggressive supervision.

What happened when Colonel Tom Parker locked Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in a room

“Because we had written, it’s funny, it was in this hotel that Jerry and I wrote ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and three of the songs that went into the movie, in about five hours,” Stoller recalled. “We had a two-bedroom suite, and we’d come in from California to be near Atlantic and to be near Hill and Wang, and to go to the theater and to hang out and to go to nightclubs. Anyway, we were locked in the room upstairs….”

Afterward, Stoller recalled Parker recalled the story behind him getting locked in the room with Leiber. “Anyway, [Parker] had come in and said, ‘Where’s my songs?’ and Jerry said, ‘Oh, you’ll have them,’” Stoller remembered. “[Parker] said, ‘I know,’ he said, ‘because I’m not leaving until I have them.’ And because we hadn’t started even looking at the script so we were locked in, he pushed his chair, over in front of the door for the way out, and he said,’I’m going to take a nap.’” After doing some songwriting, the songwriters were granted their freedom.

The impact of Elvis Presley’s ‘Jailhouse Rock’

So how did the world react to “Jailhouse Rock” and the film of the same name? According to The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits, the song reached No. 1 after it was released as a double single alongside “Treat Me Nice.” The two singles remained at the No. 1 position for seven weeks. The scene where Elvis performs “Jailhouse Rock” in the film of the same name became iconic. One Direction even recreated it in the video for “Kiss You.”

In addition, Stoller told Tablet Magazine that Parker saw him and Leiber as good luck charms because of their work on Elvis songs. Leiber even appeared as a piano player in Jailhouse Rock even though he didn’t play the piano. “Jailhouse Rock” has an unusual origin, however, it resonated with the world and put Leiber and Stoller in the history books.

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