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Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll 

Thursday, Apr 25 2013
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Photographer Alfred Wertheimer's famed 1956 series of Elvis Presley shots presents an oddly austere black-and-white dreamscape, one so well composed and presented it seems detached -- an almost out-of-body experience. That's thanks to the journalistic technique Wertheimer called "photographing in available darkness." With tonight's event, Elvis & the Birth of Rock & Roll: A Discussion With Alfred Wertheimer, the venerable shutterbug is likely to provide a big helping of first-hand dish. Just as Wertheimer still hoards hundreds of photos never made publicly available, he also carries a trove of on-the-spot observations, made during his March-to-July stint as the official, RCA-commissioned Presley documentarian. During this period, remember, Presley's career was still more controversial than assured -- although his breakout disc, Heartbreak Hotel, had been out since late January, it didn't reach No. 1 until April, when he was in Las Vegas getting reviews like this: "A bore. ... His musical sound ... is uncouth, matching to a great extent the lyric content of his nonsensical songs." Wertheimer's shotgun seat during pop culture's biggest joyride remains worth revisiting. Grammy Museum, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., #A245, dwntwn; Wed., May 1, 7:30 p.m.; $15. (213) 765-6800, grammymuseum.org.
Wed., May 1, 7:30 p.m., 2013
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Reach the writer at jwhiteside@laweekly.com

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