To my surprise and relief, it has not been hard to come up with a new article for this Elvis blog every week. There are frequent items about Elvis in the news, and I bump into lots of good things while exploring Elvis links on the internet. However, Friday night I had a wonderful Elvis experience – on the telephone.
It was a 3-1/2 hour interview with Al Wertheimer. I hope you all know about the great black-and-white photos he took of Elvis in 1956. The interview was for a 50th Anniversary article I’m doing for Elvis International, The Magazine, and the deadline is less than a week a way.
My usual Elvisblog time has been spent working on that, and we had weekend family guests. It is now 6:30 Sunday night, and I need a quick blog. So, let me tell you about some of the things I learned during the interview.
Alfred Wertheimer is a 76-year-old New Yorker who seems different from Elvis in many ways. Yet for seven days in 1956, Al tagged along with Elvis and took pictures. In no time Elvis trusted him, and soon Elvis didn’t even seem to notice him. Al was able to capture a huge cache of Elvis photos during casual, off-stage moments. He had access to Elvis that no later photographers would get, because Col. Parker shortly took the reigns on every aspect of Elvis’ career and installed lots of new rules.
During Al Wertheimer’s odyssey, Elvis performed two live concerts, he rehearsed and did two live TV shows, and he recorded Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” Elvis moved around between three states: New York, Virginia, New York, and Tennessee. There was nearly fifty hours of train travel linking it all together, none of which Al had to share with any other photographers.
Legend has it that he took almost 4000 pictures of Elvis, but Al admits that figure is too high. After culling out unusable ones (too dark, out of focus, etc.), he actually has 2053 to use for new projects. In the 28 years since Elvis died, Al has made a nice living finding nifty ways to utilize his photographs.
My article about Alfred Wertheimer has a subtitle: “7 Days with Elvis, 4000 Photos, 50 Years Ago.” With so much raw material from the interview, this one will be long. If I can relate all the interesting little stories as well as Al told them, it will be an enjoyable read. Check out the 29th Anniversary edition of Elvis International, the Magazine. It will be out in July and offered for sale during “Elvis Week.”
Sorry about this post being so late in the day. The good news is that I’ve got enough stuff from the interview to write a couple more Al Wertheimer blog articles. They will be posted early Sunday mornings like normal, so please check back.
© 2006 Philip R Arnold www.elvisblog.net