Elvis Presley and my grandpa Joe

In August 1955, Elvis Presley and his manager Bob Neal approached my grandfather, Joe Padawer, to manage Elvis’s branded and promotional products. The catch was that Elvis needed credit and Joe (a striking, cool, universally likable 35 year old Memphis advertising executive) didn’t yet have the resources to give Elvis the credit he needed. Joe did have vision, and despite Elvis’s lack of commercial success to date, Elvis was working hard to secure his first nationally distributed album. On August 16, 1955, Joe Padawer received the letter below from the big agency for which he worked stating, “Elvis Presley who would be primarily responsible for payment of the merchandise is a minor, and it seems that the manager, Bob Neal, does not have too good a credit record. We also find that the future looks rather uncertain, and we will not be able to extend them credit.” In August 1955, to complicate things further Elvis appointed Colonel Tom Parker as his “special adviser.” The agency wrote “directly to the customer (Elvis)” offering less than advantageous terms. In November 1955, Elvis was signed to RCA. In January, 1956 Elvis took off to Nashville to record his first national album. “Heartbreak Hotel” was released as a single in late January, followed by “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Hound Dog,” and “Love Me Tender.” Bob Neal was fired. Parker took over. I’ve attached the original letter written to my grandfather from Brown & Bigelow’s Credit Department RE: Elvis Presley Enterprises over a $592.50 job that was rejected due to an “uncertain future.” Elvis Presley’s credit was never questioned again… and Joe Padawer was a King in his own right, of the Memphis advertising scene in the 1960’s and 1970’s at the Joe Padawer Company, a promotional advertising agency. And, if I’m being entirely truthful, Grandpa Joe ran that agency, but Grandma was the brains behind the operation. Joe lived to 90 and passed away in 2010… one of my best friends.