When someone grows up very poor and then suddenly has money, they go nuts. It happens all of the time. Unfortunately, poor people grow up with no money management training. Managing money is hard, even Donald Trump who grew up at the feet of a successful father lost fortunes, for someone like Elvis who had nothing and poor parents who while good loving people lacked the life skills to function outside of their subsidized housing, Elvis had little chance.
Further complicating the matter was his good looks, and superstar status. Arguably the biggest star who had ever lived, everyone flattered and glad handed him. They wanted to be in his sphere and stroked his ego.
After working hard as a boy Elvis could go to any party, date any woman, and his “buddies” treated him like a king. Elvis was just having too much fun to sit down and look at a contract and learn. The colonel encouraged this.
In the early 60s Elvis joined a tour run by legendary comedian George Burns. The comic recounted later how when the contract was being signed, the Colonel got angry when Burns demanded that Elvis read it and discuss it with him highlighting any concerns. Burns was being smart, he knew that headlining stars can get upset when things go wrong, and Burns always met with his stars personally. Elvis was baffled when he had to go to Burns’ office. But when he did, Burns discussed things directly with Elvis and had to silence the Colonel more than once.
Elvis respected George whom he always addressed as “Mr. Burns” but honestly felt bad for the Colonel. Priscilla Presley however realized how good this was. She genuinely hoped and even suggested that Burns might manage Elvis and the Colonel would be fired. Burns did manage Ann-Margaret briefly, and was part of Bobby Darrin’s management team.
But he only did that as a favour to the young performers in whom he had a fatherly interest. Burns only got involved in the rock scene because after his famous wife Gracie Allen retired no one wanted to hire him. Burns thought correctly that if he worked with young rockers and was their opening act he’d introduce himself to a new generation of fans. It worked, he was huge in the late 60s and 1970s. Burns had no desire to be a full time manager and in any case recognized that Elvis was too big for most managers and needed someone really good.
Too bad Elvis didn’t listen.