Live from Music Row, Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed the host of the O’Reilly Factor and author, Bill O’Reilly to the newsmaker line to talk about his new book, Killing the Legends.
Leahy: We are joined now on our newsmaker line by Bill O’Reilly, the iconic anchor of The O’Reilly Factor and the author of Killing the Legends. Welcome, Bill. Thanks for joining us today.
O’Reilly: Michael Patrick, how are you doing?
Leahy: Great. Hey, fellow Irish American. You’re the great-grandson of John O’Reilly from County Cabin on the great-great-grandson of Andrew Leahy from County Tipperary. So a couple of Irishmen need to stick together.
O’Reilly: Yes, we do. And because we’re so good-looking, there’s a lot of envy. So that’s another reason we really have to band together.
Leahy: Exactly, Bill. So your new book, I read it last night. Great book. Killing the Legends: The Lethal Danger of Celebrity. I learned a lot about Elvis Presley, John Lennon, and Mohammed Ali. The Elvis Presley story that was fascinating to me is he died in his early forts, and it was basically because he let others run his life. Tell us about Colonel Tom Parker and how Elvis lost control.
O’Reilly: Well, first of all, the reason I wrote this book, it isn’t a People Magazine book or anything like that. It’s a book about how American culture changed. And there are three men who did it. Elvis Presley, John Lennon, and Mohammed Ali all were crushed by their celebrity, hence the name Killing the Legends.
They couldn’t handle what happened to them and one of the things they all have in common is they turn their lives over to people who betrayed them. So Tom Parker was the manager of Elvis Presley and Elvis wasn’t really smart enough to do the business end of it.
So he swoops in. Zegrifter from Holland convinces Elvis to give him 50 percent of every penny Elvis has earned, which is insane, and then proceeds to really take Elvis down a terrible career path.
Seems funny because Elvis is a big star, but I have a lot of things in the book that Elvis could have been a much bigger star and much more under control had he not listened to Tom Parker.
Leahy: This Tom Parker character, I didn’t know. I guess I should have known. The guy was a grifter from Holland. He came here to the United States illegally and had really a very bad track record. And yet Elvis trusted him.
O’Reilly: Yes, because Elvis was overwhelmed and he didn’t have a support system, which is very important for anybody, particularly a celebrity. So, you know, very poor. Father and mother weren’t educated. He marries a teenager, Elvis does.
He’s got no support system. Nobody telling him, hey, you know, maybe you want to do this or maybe you want to do that, or maybe this deal is the best. And then on the other side, Elvis gets out of control personally, takes far too many drugs, terrible diet, and mood swings way up and down. But the guy, when I was writing about him, I felt sorry for Elvis Presley.
I didn’t feel sorry for John Lennon so much. And Ali a little bit, but not as much as Elvis. Of all the three, I felt sorry for him. Unbelievably talented man, but he didn’t have anything in place to process the unbelievable success that came upon him. He just couldn’t do it. And so he let other people do everything, and he wound up dead at 42.
Leahy: I had exactly the same reaction. I didn’t feel sorry for John Lennon or Muhammad Ali, but for Elvis Presley, yes, I felt the same way. Last question for you, Bill O’Reilly, author of Killing the Legends. Bill, what will be your next book in the killing series?
O’Reilly: Well, we’re going to write a book called Killing the Witches: The Horror of Salem Massachusetts.
Leahy: That will be a great book, Bill. And we know you’ve got a hard out here.
O’Reilly: I’m writing now. I’m writing it now, and it is pretty frightening.
Leahy: Can’t wait to hear about that.
O’Reilly: October 2023, and we will get it.
Leahy: And by the way, Bill, we know you’ve got a hard out here and you got to go. Thanks so much for making the time to join us today. And best of luck with the rest of your books. Bill O’Reilly, thanks for joining us.
O’Reilly: Thank you, Michael. And I hope everybody goes to billoreilly.com and checks out all the Christmas stuff we have there.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
– – –
Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Bill O’Reilly” by Karppinen. CC BY 3.0. Photo “Killing the Legends: The Lethal Danger of Celebrity” by Amazon. Background Photo “U.S. Capitol” by Andrew Van Huss. CC BY-SA 4.0.