Press release: Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll by Alfred Wertheimer book

By: Mark Cunliffe
Source: Elvis Australia
March 9, 2013

Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll by Alfred Wertheimer book
Book cover : Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll© 2013 Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.

TASCHEN, a global leader in the publishing of art and lavish limited editions (www has come up with a new first, an absolutely gorgeous, extra large mega photo book of Alfred Wertheimer photographs titled 'Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll'. This stunning limited edition homage of the King can be bought at a princely sum of £450.00, but even given this extravagant price, TASCHEN is convinced that the 1,706 copies, signed by esteemed Elvis photographer Alfred Wertheimer, will sell out in a blink of the eye. Looking at the iconoclastic photographs of Elvis at work, at play and everything in-between it's hard to deny that the book is worth a king's ransom.

A historic moment in time

The photographs featured in Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll are witness to an incredible time in the history of photography, as well as to the birth of a star and new chapter in the history of music. The book features the very best of the 2,500 photographs that Alfred Wertheimer took on an extended photo assignment that spanned March - July 1956, just as Elvis Presley was on the cusp of national fame and superstardom. The resulting collection includes some of the most famous and iconoclastic pictures ever taken of anyone, anywhere.

© 2013 Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.
    © 2013 Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.

'He was young being only 21 years old. I found him to be quiet, intensely focused except when he was in front of the cameras in performance. There he was explosive with his whole body from top to bottom & loud!' reminisces a spritely 83 year old Alfred Wertheimer. 'From a photographer's point of view, Elvis was unique in that he permitted closeness not six to eight feet away, which was standard, but right up close, three to four feet away. He was so intensely involved with what he was doing: it was as if he were laser focused; whether he was combing his hair or chatting up the girls, he would be himself'.

© 2013 Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.
  © 2013 Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.

A treasure trove of photographs stunningly presented

The results of that rare unrestricted access are special. This 405 page book features the very best images in a size and clarity that takes the breath away. 'Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll' is an extraordinary 12.3 inches x 17.3 inches in size, and comes packed in an elegant clamshell box. You get double page photographs an incredible 24.6 inches wide and 17.3 high and full single page photographs throughout. More than half the photographs never been published before. The introduction tells the extraordinary story how the photographs came about and quotes from friends, associates and social commentators to accompany the photographs.

Together picture and quotes tell quite a story.

'At the time' Alfred Wertheimer recalls 'Elvis had already recorded 'Heartbreak Hotel' and was beginning to gain some notoriety, but he was nowhere close to becoming a cultural icon. He could still walk the streets unrecognized, and, because of this, I got the opportunity to shoot reams of film of Elvis both on stage and off, in the last remaining months before Elvis' life would change forever'.

© 2013 Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.
  © 2013 Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.

After 1956, Alfred Wertheimer would see Elvis just once more, this time as one of many photographers at the New York Harbour press conference Elvis held prior to being shipped to Germany to complete his national service in 1958. But the intimate access was gone for him and for any photographer in the future. Elvis was now very public property, shielded, and with an image to develop and protect.

Alfred Wertheimer recalls: 'He was a different Elvis from the one I had known. Now he no longer had his long hair and sideburns, he was no longer considered a rebel. He was in the army and in uniform ... He was now a good guy'.

A legacy rediscovered

In the years since Alfred Wertheimer had a long and distinguished career  as a photographer and cameraman without the public recognition his photographs of Elvis would ultimately bring him. Following the death of Elvis in 1977 the popular resurgence of interest in Elvis and this pivotal time in US history would lead to the rediscovery and universal acclaim of these very special images. The photographs were increasingly used in books, newspapers and magazines about Elvis, and before long the name of Alfred Wertheimer's became indelibly associated with Elvis Presley. The continuing high degree of interest is certainly reflected by this new, never to be surpassed, sumptuous limited edition collection of over 400 of the best photographs taken. Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll is truly a breath taking and lavish production and a fitting tribute to both Elvis and the photographer Alfred Wertheimer, who captured the spirit of Elvis and the times so magnificently.

Next week

Next week from Mark Cunliffe : Spotlight on Elvis And The Birth Of Rock And Roll: We look at the real story behind the how Alfred Wertheimer managed to take so many amazing photographs of Elvis.

Product details:

  • Title: Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll
  • Author: Alfred Wertheimer
  • Publisher: TASCHEN (
  • Pages: 405
  • Limited edition: 1706 Alfred Wertheimer signed copies
  • Size: 12.3 inches x 17.3
  • Packaging: Book inside clamshell box.
  • ISBN: ISBN 978-3-8365-3423-9
  • RSP (price): £450.00 (GBP), EURO 500.00, USD $700.00
  • Post and shipping: Free
  • Available Online from :
  • For more details click here
  • Contact: Mark Best, Public Relations
  • Manager Tel +44-20-7845-8584  FREE +44-20-7845-8584

All images are © 2013 Alfred Wertheimer/Courtesy TASCHEN.

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