Robert Santelli avec Alfred Wertheimer: Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll
"Elvis who?" was photographer Al Wertheimer's response when, in early 1956, an RCA Victor publicist asked him to shoot an up-and-coming crooner from Memphis. Little did Wertheimer know that this would be the job of his life: just 21 years old, Elvis Presley was - as we now know - about to become a legend. Trailing him like a shadow, Wertheimer was given unlimited access to get up close and personal with Elvis; even as the singer was seducing young women in dark hallways, he allowed the photographer to record his every move. Wertheimer took nearly 3,000 photographs of Presley that year, creating a penetrating portrait of a man poised on the brink of superstardom. Extraordinary in its intimacy and unparalleled in its scope, Wertheimer's Elvis project immortalized a young man in the very process of making history. (Just a month after he shot Elvis recording the "Don't Be Cruel"/"Houng Dog" record, it became the first ever to top all three Billboard charts.) Limited to 1,500 numbered copies signed by Wertheimer, this Collector's Edition brings together his most remarkable Elvis shots from 1956, along with a selection from his historic pictures of the star in 1958 as he was being shipped off to an army base in Germany. Though many of Wertheimer's photos of Elvis are among the best known, nearly half of the photographs in this book have never been published before. Fans of photojournalism, portraiture, and, of course, the King himself will covet this collector's volume.
The photographer: Alfred Wertheimer was born in Germany in 1929, 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. The contributing authors: Chris Murray has organized over 200 exhibitions of many of the leading artists of our time, from Andy Warhol in the 1970s to Annie Leibovitz's first exhibition in 1984. He is co-curator of the Smithsonian Institution's exhibition" Elvis at 21" and is the author or editor of over a dozen books. Robert Santelli is the executive director of the Grammy Museum and former CEO/artistic director of the Experience Music Project. He is the author of nearly a dozen books and a contributor to magazines such as "Rolling Stone."