In 1956, freelance photographer Alfred Wertheimer was assigned to photograph a little-known 21-year-old singer who record company RCA was promoting. 

That singer was Elvis Presley, and in the ensuing weeks Wertheimer was granted unprecedented access to photograph it all - performance, recording, backstage, candid and up and close. Wertheimer documented the historic recordings of ‘Hound Dog’, ‘Don’t be Cruel’ and  ‘Anyway You Want Me’. He shadowed Elvis behind the scenes, on his return to the family home in Memphis, and then again in 1958 as Elvis left Brooklyn for his departure to Germany as a new recruit to the US Army.

“The wonderful thing about Elvis,” Wertheimer says, “was that he permitted closeness…” and what resulted is a unique and intimate portrait of an artist on the very brink of global megastardom. Never again would such access be possible and today the archive represents one of  the most incredible portrayals of celebrity ever made

Enjoy a selection from this intimate collection in the gallery below.

View the full collection on Getty Images. 

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