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Elvis Presley joined the military at a point when his music career was on a seemingly impossible rise. He set records with his new releases and fans practically threw themselves at his feet. When Elvis went to Germany with the army, he worried his career’s momentum would slow. His record label was also worried about losing their big moneymaker. They were so desperate for new Elvis music that they asked him to sing into a regular tape recorder. 

Elvis’ record label wanted new music from him while he was in Germany

When Elvis arrived in Germany, hundreds of shrieking fans met him at the docks. Despite the warm greeting, Elvis wanted to be a normal soldier while he was there. This meant taking a step back from his career. His record label, RCA Victor, did not like this. The company did not want his music career to lose any momentum.

“They wanted to keep the ball rolling,” Elvis’ bodyguard, Red West, recalled in the book Elvis: What Happened? by Steve Dunleavy. “They wanted him to cut a disc in Germany.”

A black and white picture of Elvis strumming an acoustic guitar and singing a song.
Elvis Presley | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Elvis’ manager, Colonel Tom Parker, rejected this idea. He did not want Elvis to put out any new music, though this didn’t stop RCA Victor from trying.

“When that idea was hit on the head, they even pleaded with him just to sing a song into an ordinary tape recorder,” West said. “They would do the instrumentals and the dubbing back in New York. But the old Colonel, I guess he knew what he was doing and he knew the time wasn’t right.”

Elvis’ manager didn’t want him to put out any music while he was in the army

Elvis’ military service did wonders for his public reputation. He did not join the Special Services, or the entertainment branch. He was a regular soldier despite his celebrity status. Suddenly, even his critics began to look at him as a respectable figure, not the hip-swiveling threat they initially made him out to be. West believed this was Parker’s intention all along.

“I always had a suspicion that the old Colonel maneuvered so Elvis would be in that Third Armored Division just so as nobody could say that he was a soft delinquent-type guy,” West said.

Parker also didn’t want Elvis putting on any performances, even with the Special Services. He wanted Elvis — and himself — to receive a paycheck for every concert.

“They want my boy to sing,” Parker reportedly said, “then they are going to have to pay for it like anyone else.”

He wanted to be a regular soldier

Though Elvis had his share of concerns about putting his career on hold, he wanted to prove himself while in the army.

A black and white picture of Elvis in his army uniform and sitting near a tank.
Elvis Presley | Vittoriano Rastelli/Corbis via Getty Images

Elvis’ Entourage Had to ‘Con Him’ Into Bathing

“People were expecting me to mess up, to goof up in one way or another. They thought I couldn’t take it and so forth, and I was determined to go to any limits to prove otherwise,” Elvis said, per The Washington Post. “Not only to the people who were wondering but to myself.”

Elvis remained in Germany until 1968.