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Priscilla Presley walked in on an angry conversation between Elvis Presley and his father, Vernon. Frustrated, Elvis told his father he wanted to fire his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. With that, he stormed out of the house. Priscilla explained that everyone expected him to return within a few hours, but he didn’t come home that night. Or the next night. Or the night after that. This worried everyone because Elvis never planned anything for himself. He didn’t carry money, and he didn’t even know his phone number. 

Priscilla Presley could hardly believe it when Elvis left the house without guidance

After Elvis spent thousands of dollars on Christmas gifts for his entourage, Vernon, Priscilla, and Parker decided they needed to step in. Vernon had always been cautious about money and informed his son that he’d go bankrupt if he kept spending this way. Furious, Elvis said he wanted to fire Parker and stormed out.

“Elvis stomped out the front door, never returning that evening nor the following few,” Priscilla wrote in her book Elvis and Me. “We were mystified.” 

A black and white picture of Elvis Presley combing his hair.
Elvis Presley | Bettmann/Contributor via Getty

Typically, Elvis only needed a few hours to cool off. They were more surprised, though, that he’d managed to pick up and leave. Elvis usually traveled with his entourage and relied on his manager and employees to make plans for him. 

“For the first time he was traveling alone — without even one bodyguard,” Priscilla wrote. “Elvis didn’t even know his own phone number; nor did he carry cash. How was he going to get around? Arrangements had always been made for him.”

Elvis did bring one friend, Jerry Schilling, along with him. Beyond this, though, he was more independent than he’d been in years. 

Priscilla Presley said Elvis seemed thrilled at what he’d accomplished

While he was gone, Elvis visited Washington D.C. and Los Angeles before returning to D.C. again. Here, he toured the FBI headquarters and met with President Richard Nixon, who gave him a Federal Narcotics badge. When he returned home several days later, it was clear that he was proud of his accomplishments.

“He was like a kid,” Priscilla said, per the book Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick. “It was like nothing had ever happened [to precipitate the trip]. He talked about how he got to meet President Nixon and told him all about getting drugs off the street and how he wanted to make a difference — he felt like this would really be his in, I guess.”

After years of leaving the direction of his life up to other people, Priscilla said Elvis seemed excited he’d done all this for himself. 

“It was a new challenge, and he did it; I think it really surprised him that he was able to get away with it, but he was definitely thrilled,” Priscilla wrote. “It was the highlight of his challenges!”

It was probably a good thing that Elvis didn’t carry money on him

Elvis should have known his phone number, but it was likely a good thing that he rarely carried money on him. He spent money freely and without much thought; everything he earned quickly went back out of his wallet. He bought expensive presents, wrote checks, and poured cash into fleeting hobbies

A black and white picture of Elvis Presley wearing a floral shirt and laughing.
Elvis Presley | Keystone/Getty Images

Priscilla Presley Revealed the Selfish Reason Elvis Wouldn’t Let Her Tour With Him

When Elvis bought a $500,000 ranch and outfitted it with horses, staff, trailers and trucks for his entourage, and other equipment, Vernon pleaded with him to stop.

“He continued spending money as if it were going out of style,” Priscilla wrote. “Alarmed, Vernon literally begged him to stop, but Elvis said, ‘I’m having fun, Daddy, for the first time in ages. I’ve got a hobby, something I look forward to gettin’ up in the mornin’ for.'”