Elvis, Taschen and Alfred Wertheimer

by Chris Murray on September 13, 2022

Title Page from Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll, (Taschen 2022)  Created by Hatch Show Print.

I was delighted when Taschen published Elvis And The Birth Of Rock And Roll, the last of the four books I co-authored with Alfred Wertheimer of his extraordinary photographs of Elvis Presley. Released a few weeks ago on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of Elvis Presley passing, the timing also coincided with Baz Luhrmann’s film ELVIS. I saw the film and it is remarkable. I was told by an insider that Austin Butler who portrayed Elvis in the movie, had a copy of Elvis at 21 by his bedside during the film’s shooting, the first book I did with Wertheimer of his photographs.

Steve Allen Show rehearsal, New York City, June 29, 1956. By Alfred Wertheimer.

The photograph above was recreated in the ELVIS film, with some color added by Baz Luhrmann. This is the very same photograph I saw on the cover of Peter Guralnick’s biography of Elvis, Last Train To Memphis, which first led to me contacting Alfred Wertheimer and was the start of a great twenty year working relationship and friendship.

Starburst, Memphis, July 4, 1956. By Alfred Wertheimer.

One day I asked Alfred what his favorite photo was that he took of Elvis. The photo above, “Starburst,” is the image he told me he enjoyed the most. That photograph was also referred to in Baz Luhrmann’s ELVIS film and is in the new Taschen book.

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