Richmond TV station debuts unseen Elvis photo from 1955

Greg McQuade at CBS 6 News in Richmond, Virginia, has helped unearth a previously unseen photo of Elvis.

“Sylvia Brendle was a high school junior when she snapped a never-before-seen picture of Elvis at the Mosque in May of 1955,” McQuade states (“Elvis fan shares unseen photo as new exhibit opens at VMFA” —

The photo is significant to Richmond fans in particular because the May 16, 1955, concert at the Mosque was the first time Elvis appeared here in Richmond. The singer was still on the SUN Records label at the time. Just six months later, he would sign with RCA Records and soon go from being a regional star to an international one.

CBS 6: Elvis At The Mosque, Richmond, Virginia, 1955

Also covered in McQuade’s story is the Elvis At 21 exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition features legendary photos of Elvis snapped by photographer Alfred Wertheimer, including several of Elvis in Richmond in June 1956.

Elvis eventually did 15 shows in Richmond, the last one in 1976.

New 1950s radio book includes Elvis photos

Ben Marks over at Collectors Weekly posted a terrific article last week about 1950s Radio in Color: The Lost Photographs of Deejay Tommy Edwards, a new book by Christopher Kennedy.

“The book reproduces color slides that Edwards took of all the music and movie stars who passed through the studios of WERE-AM in Cleveland from 1955-1960. Edwards would project his slides on the walls of high school gyms, where he produced record hops and live shows,” says Marks.

“For many of the kids in those gyms, this was the first time they had seen, for example, that famous photo of Bill Haley and Elvis Presley taken in 1955,” he says.

You can check out what is probably the best quality version I’ve ever seen of that photo over at Marks’ article:

Found Photos: When Rock Lost Its Innocence — Collectors Weekly

“Today that photo is a classic that we take for granted. Back then it made people gasp,” says Marks.

Looks like an incredible book to me. This one’s definitely hitting the wish list! Thanks to Ben Marks for sending this information along.

Go behind-the-scenes with Old Yeller in Viva Las Vegas

Filming Viva Las Vegas

Filming Viva Las Vegas

Because it linked to my “Victory in Vegas for Elvis the Jedi Master” post, I recently came across an incredible webpage containing 19 behind-the-scenes photos of Viva Las Vegas. The photos are from the collection of two-time Academy Award-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler. Wexler owned the “Old Yeller III,” a car featured in the Las Vegas Grand Prix race sequence.

One of those images from Tam’s Old Race Car Site is above. The site describes it as, “Three of the most interesting cars involved in the production await instructions at a staging point in the mountains. Old Yeller III and the ‘Vinegaroon’ are joined by a beautiful Ferrari 250GT ‘Tour de France’.”

Really cool stuff! View the full set of images at the “Filming ‘Viva Las Vegas'” page. If you’re a car buff, the entire Tam’s Old Race Car Site is definitely worth checking out as well.

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Image Source
Original image is from the Haskell Wexler Collection, provided by Tam’s Old Race Car Site. Thank you to Jeff Wexler and Tam McPartland for allowing use of this photograph on The Mystery Train Elvis Blog. Please do not reproduce this image without obtaining permission.

Elvis lives his dreams in Memphis

Elvis Presley's Memphis (2010)

Elvis Presley’s Memphis (2010)

Elvis Presley’s Memphis (book)
Presented By Elvis Presley Enterprises and The Commercial Appeal
176 pp. Pediment. $39.95

As I journeyed yet again through the life of Elvis Presley, this literary trip built upon the context of Memphis, I was happy to find some new insights into the man. This is not the average Elvis coffee table book – you know, the ones that shuffle around the same photos and text from last year’s variation.

That Elvis Presley’s Memphis is different is evident right from the start. The cover is hardly typical of those of other Elvis books, which tend to be rush jobs consisting of a common photo of Elvis with a title slapped above it. “It doesn’t matter what it looks like, fans will buy it because its Elvis,” seems to be the mentality.

Instead, this book features a creatively designed, beautiful cover with a lesser-known photo of Elvis superimposed against a vintage 1951 backdrop of Main Street in Memphis. Look carefully at this work of art and you’ll see the Loew’s State Theater is playing Father’s Little Dividend, starring Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, and Elizabeth Taylor. Within the book, you’ll find a photo of Elvis at the same theater in 1950, when he worked there as an usher until fired by manager Arthur Groom for getting into a fight with a co-worker.

Elvis apparently held no hard feelings for his former boss, for another photo shows him with Groom several years later for the 1957 Jailhouse Rock premiere – at Loew’s State Theater. His first movie, Love Me Tender, also premiered there in 1956. Business must have been good at Loew’s with that kind of publicity.

Imagine how it must have felt for Elvis to watch himself on screen at the same movie theater he worked at only years before. “When I was a child . . . I was a dreamer. . . . I saw movies, and I was the hero in the movie,” Elvis once said.

“Every dream I ever dreamed has come true a hundred times,” he continued. At its heart, Elvis Presley’s Memphis is about those dreams. The dreams of a 13-year-old as his family moves to Memphis from Tupelo, Mississippi, for a fresh start. The dreams of an 18-year-old as he pays to record a couple of songs at the Memphis Recording Service. The dreams of a 33-year-old as he holds his daughter for the first time.

The bind between Elvis and Memphis is indeed strong, but perhaps no stronger than at Graceland, the home he purchased there on Highway 51 South in 1957 as his rising fame literally chased him out of his previous neighborhood on Audubon Drive. Could the 22-year-old ever have dreamed that Memphis would one day rename the street in front of that mansion in his honor?

Only twenty years later, Elvis would spend his last days at Graceland on Elvis Presley Boulevard. “When the news of Elvis’ death was heard over the police radio, the entire force felt they had lost one of their own,” writes Robert Dye in a section called “Memphis Beat.” You see, Elvis’ renowned collection of police badges was more than just a hobby.

Though they may have indeed been honorary, those badges meant something real not only to him, but also to those who bestowed them – none more so than the Memphis police. While stories of Elvis’ generosity are legendary, there are some here involving the police that are worthy of the spotlight placed on them by this book. Elvis had his flaws, as do we all, but I remain proud to call myself a fan.

From a boy who had little in the way of material possessions to a man who could afford to buy seemingly anything – go-karts, motorcycles, cars, and even airplanes – the life of Elvis in Memphis is detailed in a series of occasionally repetitive articles. Much of this book is about Elvis having fun, for while he sometimes worked in Memphis, it more often served as his playground, a place to unwind and relax.

Some of the stories are new, while others are reprinted from The Commercial Appeal or The Memphis Press Scimitar newspapers. Most are well-written and informative, though a few appear to be excerpts or sidebars from longer pieces and include chopped bits of information that go no deeper than the typical travel brochure for Graceland.

While Elvis is the focus, the book also paints a portrait of Memphis as a whole, including in a running timeline not only significant events in Elvis history, but significant events in Memphis history as well. The two are often intertwined. 1968’s entries include: “April 4: Martin Luther King is assassinated at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis. Elvis is in California. June 23: Elvis records ‘If I Can Dream.'”

Filled with truly rare documents and photos, including one of Elvis visiting his mother’s grave, Elvis Presley’s Memphis is a standout among the many printed works about this often misunderstood man.

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Cover image courtesy of Pediment Books. Used with permission.