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See candid photos of Elvis Presley in 1956

© Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.
(Image credit: © Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.)

1956 was a landmark year for rock 'n' roll: Elvis Presley arrived as a star, and celebrated photographer Alfred Wertheimer was close by. 

Wertheimer took nearly 3,000 photographs of Presley in 1956 when Elvis was just 21. The new TASCHEN book 'Alfred Wertheimer. Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll' brings together over 300 pictures of Elvis from Wertheimer's legendary portfolio, taking us close to the King as he made history.

© Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.

Order Alfred Wertheimer. Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll (opens in new tab) from TASCHEN (Image credit: © Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.)

The following are six samples from the book that capture the young Elvis Presley with extraordinary intimacy. 

“May I take your order?”

(Image credit: © Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.)

Elvis prepares to turn on the charm with an unsuspecting waitress at the Hotel Jefferson in Richmond, Virginia.


Tumbleweed Presley

(Image credit: © Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.)

Elvis, as "Tumbleweed Presley," works on his trademark sneer during a rehearsal for The Steve Allen Show in New York City, 1 July, 1956.


Starburst

(Image credit: © Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.)

Starburst, Russwood Park, Memphis, Tennessee, July 4, 1956. A lucky accident, a flashbulb goes off in the crowd at the very moment the shutter of Wertheimer’s camera opens, creating a magnificent spray of backlight.


Dorsey Brothers’ Stage Show

(Image credit: © Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.)

Elvis Presley prepares to wow the audience during a dress rehearsal for the Dorsey Brothers’ Stage Show at CBS Studio 50 in 1956.


Listening session 

(Image credit: © Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.)

High school sweetheart Barbara Hearn comes by the Presley family home before the concert, and listens to the quick acetate discs from the RCA Victor session a few days earlier.


Stage Show, March 17, 1956

(Image credit: © Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.)

Elvis, Scotty Moore on guitar, and Bill Black on bass, and DJ Fontana on drums, during a live performance on Stage Show, March 17, 1956.

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Rob Laing
Rob Laing

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar. I've currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with my own songs and I am enjoying playing covers in function bands.