“Elvis who?” was photographer Alfred Wertheimer’s response when, in early 1956, an RCA Victor publicist asked him to photograph 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 Presley like a shadow, 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.
Now available as a TASCHEN standard edition, Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll collects Wertheimer’s most remarkable Elvis shots from that magical year, along with a selection of his historic 1958 pictures of the star being shipped off to an army base in Germany. Each chapter is illustrated with a poster by Hatch Show Print, one of the oldest letterpress print shops in America, which created many early Elvis posters in the 1950s.