Rare Elvis Pictures Discovered

By: Elvis Australia
Source: Elvis Day By Day
April 23, 2018

Elvis Presley's show at Empire Stadium on Aug. 31, 1957 is the stuff of legend. But photos of the gig are as rare as hen's teeth. So imagine Rob Frith's surprise when he recently got a call about some unknown Elvis photos from Empire Stadium.

Frith admits he was 'a bit skeptical' about new photos turning up six decades after the show. But he was astonished when he saw them in person.

'Look at this', he said this week, pointing to a photo of Elvis in full pelvis mode. 'That's just killer! It's the classic pose'. Indeed it is. The photo captures the early Elvis in all his rock 'n' roll glory, knees bent and wide apart, singin' and swingin' in his famous gold lame jacket.

Elvis Presley in Concert | Empire Stadium on Aug. 31, 1957.

'I was excited - I had to have them', laughs Frith, one of Canada's top rock poster collectors.

'I was worried they would disappear. The guy (was moving) and one of his boxes gets lost and that's it, they're gone'.

Frith wound up purchasing 14 prints from Andrew Bazan, whose dad Anthony took the shots. Anthony Bazan worked as a portrait photographer, and talked his way into the Presley show by claiming to be a member of the press.

One photo features Elvis with his backing singers the Jordonaires, the rest are solo shots of Elvis in various states of gyration. They've never been published, which is hard to believe, because they totally capture his onstage magic.

The show only lasted 22 minutes before some fans rushed the stage and Elvis vamoosed. But it sounds like the King was in full control onstage.

'(At one point) Dad was about to take a photograph when Elvis turned away', Andrew Bazan said in an email.

'Elvis realized the situation, turned, faced Dad, smiled and waited for him to take the photo, all while still performing the song'.

Elvis Presley Concert.

The black and white prints are small, four by six inches. The negatives were lost in a fire years ago, but the Bazans kept the prints in pristine condition. Anthony Bazan died about 10 years ago, and his son inherited the photos. He decided to sell them when he moved to Peterborough, Ont.

'I felt the photos belonged in Vancouver, in a good home, hopefully to be enjoyed as I had enjoyed them over the years', he said.

Frith was a logical person to sell them to - he owns Neptoon Records on Main Street, and is Vancouver's top rock poster collector. Bazan had also dealt with him before.

'Apparently when his mother died he called me and I bought her records, like 20 years ago or something', said Frith. 'I think he (also) saw me on that Rockinitis (cable TV) show'.

Most of the existing shots from the gig were by Rolly Ford, who made prints for disc jockey Red Robinson, who was the MC of the show. Robinson chuckles when asked about a rumour that Elvis was wearing black pants in the Vancouver show because his gold lame pants were at the drycleaners.

'Elvis tried to wear that gold suit (onstage), but with his movement and everything else it cracked', he said.

'He said 'I don't want to wear this (bleep) anymore', and took off the bottom and left the top on. It was gold lame, and just split apart'.

The Sun sent photographer Bill Dennett to the Presley show, and apparently he took some marvellous shots. But when the crowd rushed the stage, editors decided to run a Ralph Bower photo of the crowd instead of Elvis, which infuriated Dennett.

'He went (backstage) and did a whole bunch of (portrait) shots of Elvis with his hand up, with his wristwatch, beautiful shots', Bower recalls.

'He had an idea of selling them as a big promotion (in the paper). He must have had about a dozen good shots'.

Unfortunately the Dennett photos have disappeared from the Sun's archives, and have never been seen by the public. Frith can't believe the Sun didn't run any Elvis shots from his show, which drew a record crowd of 25,898.

'It was one of the biggest cultural events in the history of the world - Elvis Presley was a big deal!' said Frith.

'How could they not run that? Why wouldn't you? Do you not want to sell newspapers?

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