A King in the Making
Chartwell Books, 9780785833031, 224pp.
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
In 1956, a twenty-one-year-old Elvis Presley was at the beginning of his remarkable and unparalleled career and photographer Alfred Wertheimer was asked by Presley’s new label, RCA Victor, to photograph the rising star. With unimpeded access to the young performer, Wertheimer was able to capture the unguarded and everyday moments in Elvis' life during that crucial year.
This was a year that took Presley from Tupelo, Mississippi to the silver screen, and to the verge of international stardom and to his coronation as "The King of Rock 'n' Roll.” As Alfred Wertheimer photographed Elvis during 1956, and again in 1958, he created classic images that are spontaneous, unrehearsed and completely without artifice.
Wertheimer’s photographs of Elvis are extraordinary and he appears almost ethereal, whether reading a newspaper while waiting for a cab, or washing his hands during one of his many train trips. After 1958 and Elvis’ induction into the army, the world seemingly forgot about Wertheimer’s magical photographs - for nineteen years - until Aug 16, 1977, the day Elvis died and Time Magazine called. “The phone hasn’t really stopped ringing in the last thirty years,” observes Wertheimer.
Many of the photographs in this visual treasury are previously unpublished and some have become almost as famous as the man himself.
About the Author
Alfred Wertheimer was born in Germany in 1930, came to America and settled in Brooklyn as a young boy. He took an early interest in architecture and design, which led him to Cooper Union, from which he graduated in 1951. In the spring of 1956, a series of commercial assignments for RCA Records led to a shoot of a newly signed singer named Elvis Presley. Instantly impressed, Wertheimer devoted four months of his own time to intensely shadow the young star. The result would be the most intimate and candid look at the future legend ever recorded.
Peter Guralnick is an award-winning biographer of Elvis Presley and author of Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love. A music critic, screenwriter, and historian of American popular music, he is also the author of Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke.