Robert Neal Hobgood
October 6, 1917
|Died||May 9, 1983 (aged 65)|
Bob Neal organized live music events and was also an emcee. So, upon Sam Phillips' request, he set up Elvis Presley for his first live performance at Overton Park in Memphis, Tennessee on July 30, 1954.
Managing Elvis Presley
In February 1955, Bob Neal started Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE, Inc.) to promote the product “Elvis Presley”, with an office at 160 Union Avenue, across from the famous Peabody Hotel, in Memphis, Tennessee.
On March 15, 1955, Neal signed an amended one-year contract agreement with Elvis, giving him a 15 percent commission.
On November 21, 1955 Elvis’ contract with Sun was purchased by RCA. At that time, Colonel Tom Parker and Bob Neal agreed to split their combined 40 percent commission on Elvis's earnings.
Moreover, Bob Neal was growing weary of life on the road, he still had his job as a DJ and, by March 1956, he had opened a record store in Memphis.
So, when his contract with Elvis expired on March 15, 1956, he decided not to pursue renewal and Colonel Tom Parker became Elvis’ manager.
Neal would later say "I always felt that Elvis was going to be a big artist, but I never would have believed how big, so I just preferred to drop out of the scene."
A few months later, Neal opened a talent agency called Stars, Inc. for representation and booking of artists that would include Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Sonny James, Warren Smith, Jerry Lee Lewis, etc.
In 1958 he freed the others from their contracts and focused solely on Johnny Cash, moving his family along with Johnny's to California.
The following year he arranged a tour out of the country to Australia for Johnny, something the Colonel should have done, but would never do for Elvis.
However, the Hollywood scene was not as entirely fruitful for them as it was for Elvis and, late in 1960, when their contract expired, they did not renew. They split amicably, with a generous settlement on royalties.
Neal returned to Tennessee and set up in Nashville. Through the 1960s he was back in the talent agencies.
In 1964, Neal started Country Music News Service, a company that offered taped reports and weekly interviews with top country performers to subscribing radio stations, featuring news items about the country music field and interviews with top country music performers.
By the 1970s he would also serve as a director of the Country Music Association.
Never critical, he would later praise what the Colonel did with Elvis, though suggest that he himself would probably not have kept him away from performing for a live audience for so long, something that Elvis always enjoyed.
The same year that Elvis died, in 1977, Neal received the Man of The Year Award from the Nashville Association of Talent Directors for his great contribution in the field of country music.
The following year, on October 12, 1984 Bob Neal was elected into the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall Of Fame.
- "Manager Bob Neal Dies at 65". Kentucky New Era. Associated Press. May 11, 1983. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- "New Act from Memphis—Bob Neal Remembers". Billboard: C6. May 23, 1970.
- http://scottymoore.net/BobNeal.html%7C[permanent dead link] "Bob Neal, Elvis' second Manager": "In July of 1954 Bob was one of the local deejays that Sam Phillips gave an acetate of Elvis’ first record which he played on WMPS and later Sam contacted him and asked if he had a spot for Elvis, Scotty and Bill on his show in Overton Park at the end of that month. Bob added them but had to get Elvis in the union first."
- http://scottymoore.net/BobNeal.html%7C[permanent dead link] "Bob Neal, Elvis' second Manager": "In the fall of that year Bob started doing bookings for the band and through him they met Oscar Davis who would try to make a tentative deal to **take over Elvis' management from Scotty**. By the end of the year though Bob had signed on as Elvis’ manager, commencing officially on January 1, 1955."
- "Bob Neal". Toledo Blade. Associated Press. May 11, 1983. Retrieved May 25, 2014.