domingo, 19 de septiembre de 2010

ELVIS WHO??

Photograph by Alfred Wertheimer / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

I remember the first time I heard an Elvis Presley song. I was maybe 9 or 10 years old.

It was a pretty damn hot summer afternoon and we had an old mixtape cassette that somehow ended up in our house. And let me tell cousin, it was a "precious", almost like the precious of Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

It’s hard to believe or even remember the first time you do something. Memories usually are always trying to deceive facts and sometimes they don’t seem to sit well with you at all even when you do your best to memorize your whole life.

Photograph by Alfred Wertheimer / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

As an adult, I personally don’t try to remember all my movements, - I don’t even remember what I did last weekend - but clearly I still can remember when I said to my mother that I was listening a song of “Elvis I-don’t-know-what”.

To be honest, I didn’t like too much the songs of the cassette. The first one was Elvis Presley´s famous love song "Love me tender". It was a hell of a song! But of course, I didn’t know it then. It wasn’t my style, it was too slow, kind of romantic and I thought it was music for girls! - Later with years, I guess I can say my thoughts were not too far from reality.

Photograph by Alfred Wertheimer / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

Love me tender and Love me do (Elvis Presley and The Beatles) are the only songs I only remember of the tracklist, ain’t that a shame? - But those were the ones I listened the most. Specially Love me tender, which I used to hum it all day long.

After that, I listened a bunch of Elvis songs, such as Heartbreak Hotel, In The Ghetto, That´s All Right, Blue Suede Shoes, Jailhouse Rock and my mother´s favorite Suspicious Mind. All greats and all easy to dance, hum and listen in any given afternoon.

Photograph by Alfred Wertheimer / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

The second real and strong encounter with Mister Presley in my life I remember it loud and clear. My mother took me to the movies to see Forrest Gump back in ´94 or ´95. And if you watched Forrest Gump, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Screenshots of the movie Forrest Gump / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

Although an actor was impersonating Elvis Presley, I found it fantastic! And in the words of Forrest himself; “That´s all I have to say about that”.

Portrait of Alfred Wertheimer / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

Alfred Wertheimer was a struggling twenty-six year old free-lance photojournalist in New York City. He was hired by RCA in 1956 to shoot promotional images of a recently signed 21-year-old recording artist named Elvis Presley.

Legend said that Alfred Wertheimer is one of the few people in the world that had the luxury or benefit to say “Elvis Who?” when he heard about his assignment. After those words…that´s pretty much where his journal began.

Photograph by Alfred Wertheimer / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

Heartbreak Hotel was the number 1 hit back in ´56 and the music label wanted Wertheimer to delivers some nice and promotional backstage photos of the young guy with a baby face. Of course no one thought they were in the presence of the future “king of Rock and Roll” or The Tiger (Karate name), Elvis The Pelvis, Alan (Codename at Graceland), Big E! or simply; The Hillbilly Cat.

Photograph by Alfred Wertheimer / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

Anyway, whatever nicknames Elvis was about to receive a few years later, what brings us here today it´s the fact that between March and July of ´56 Wertheimer took about 4,000 photographs of Elvis in a way nobody else could ever match in terms of intimacy, innocence, childish behavior, grace, hope and somehow we are able to see a naughty and daring Elvis, especially with girls. Soon after, “Colonel” Tom Parker, Elvis’ manager, restricted media contact with Presley.

Wertheimer has shown the Elvis Presley's life on the road in 1956 on a book called Elvis At 21: New York To Memphis.

Cover of the book of Alfred Wertheimer / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

The most famous of Wertheimer's photographs is "The Kiss", a flirtatious encounter Elvis had with a young woman backstage in Richmond, Virginia before a concert. "I was more interested in the moments just before or just after the decisive moment," explained Wertheimer.

Famous photo known as "The Kiss" / Photograph by Alfred Wertheimer / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

Here´s a piece of an interview made to Wertheimer:

How did you first meet Elvis? I got this one assignment from RCA.

I was thrilled because I was going to work closely with Tommy Dorsey and I was asked to work with Elvis Presley. At that time I had never heard of Elvis. I first met Elvis in his dressing room in CBS TV Studio 50 where he was preparing for his fifth appearance on the Dorsey Stage Show... Elvis looked kinda bored. He was yawning. There was a ring salesman and Elvis had just ordered diamond ring with a horse shoe and horse's head. Elvis continued to wear that ring for a long time after.

Photograph by Alfred Wertheimer / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

What is the story behind that famous Wertheimer print of Elvis Tongue Kissing the Girl on the Stairwell?

It took place in a dark alcove behind the stage of the Mosque Theatre (Richmond, Virginia) about two minutes before Elvis went on stage to perform before 4 thousand people, on June 30, 1956. This female fan said to Elvis. 'I'll bet you can't kiss me, Elvis so there" "I betcha I can", retorted Elvis.

The whole episode took about a tenth of a second. A minute later Elvis was on stage. Just then I was coming down from the men's room and saw this scene. Of Elvis and the girl flirting, kind of having this private moment. I said to myself, "If I shot this... Elvis may have me fired and I lose my job" But then I said to myself, "What the heck I'll take the chance..." While I'm having this internal conversation I put the camera to my eye and see These two figures in silhouette with a window background.

Photograph by Alfred Wertheimer / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

So I got a little closer and closer and before I knew it and start snapping. Now they block my way so I stand up on the railing to get another angle. I get one picture where Elvis is in closel. Then Elvis makes his move... sticks out his tongue…and the rest is history.


Everyone wants to know who is the girl is in the photograph?

To this day I'm still am not sure. Several years ago, I had somebody from the South claiming it was her and she feels I should be paying her royalties. So I asked, "Look after 41 years, how old are you?" She said, "I'm 65"....

However, I suspected that this girl should have been a lot younger.

Photograph by Alfred Wertheimer / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

Then I asked her what we were doing the day before and day after this picture was taken.
She said, "Well I flew up to Niagara Falls with Elvis on the plane." I told her, "Your story doesn't jibe with the facts, so are certainly not the girl in the picture" - She retorted, "I'm sure I'm that girl"

Photograph by Alfred Wertheimer / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

So I said, "Elvis kissed a lot of girls. You might have been kissed by Elvis but this is not you. Then she set her lawyer on me. As I could prove that she was not the girl in the photo that she claimed to be... but it took me six month to resolve the issue. You must be proud that this photo has since become an icon of Elvis rock n roll era. Yes, but the biggest thrill was when Diane Keaton was the first to ever buy that photo from me. "She later wrote that this was the sexiest picture ever taken in the whole world and the history of man.... and I will admit... I agree with her.
*Source

here´s a video of Wertheimer himself:



Well, now that you know WHO is WHO, I hope you fall (more) in love with the music of The King….honestly, Elvis is one of my childhood heroes and I wish you the same passion for his music and moves that I have being feeling since I was a kid.

Photograph by Alfred Wertheimer / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

In case you want to see pretty much all the gallery of photos, click here and enjoy!

See you on the road amigos! Thx for reading and take care of yourselves.

Bye!
Written by Jesus Rodriguez
Feel free to comment!
jrphotojournalist@gmail.com

1 comentarios:

Juan J. Espinoza dijo...

Finally, you're talking about kings and stuff.

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"I always said, if I had to fuck a guy... I mean had to, if my life depended on it... I'd fuck Elvis" - Clarence Worley

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