Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll

Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll

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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Grammy Museum

800 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015