On this day last year, I posted this entry as a tribute to Elvis Presley (and Esau Smith) on what would have been his 74th birthday. This year's tribute to the King revolves around this Vanity Fair article recently emailed to me by my friend, and Shedd's Spot's west coast bureau chief, "M.K.". After all, the King deserves a classy tribute on what would have been his 75th birthday.
The Vanity Fair piece actually details the period of time in mid-1956 when photographer Alfred Wertheimer shadowed Elvis and took hundreds of photographs of Elvis in the recording studio during the "Hound Dog"/"Don't Be Cruel" sessions, at the Steve Allen Show in New York, at a concert in Richmond, Virginia, and during a long train ride back to Memphis. One very strange fact brought to light in the piece is that Wertheimer had no idea who Elvis was prior to taking the photography assignment from RCA Records. A short slide show of 13 of Wertheimer's photographs of Elvis accompanies the article and can be seen here. The photos are also part of a travelling exhibit, Elvis at 21, which opens today at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.
Wertheimer published a book of these photographs, Elvis at 21 New York to Memphis, in 2006. The book also includes a narrative by Wertheimer that details the days he spent with Presley in July 1956. The book is a must own for anyone who is more than a passing Elvis fan, although the list price of $65 may put it beyond the range of some fans.
To wrap up this tribute to Elvis, here is the King performing one of the songs he recorded during the days Wertheimer shadowed him in 1956.