Monday, 1 April 2013

Portraits of ELVIS

Yes, really... now that us oldies - the ones that remember the King as being alive - are in the minority, most of youse are left with a puzzling image of a burger-chuggling ball of sweat in a sparkly get-up. That's the image the media throws out; it was funny for a moment, then only remained so to drunken stag party-goers and tabloid editors. Those who actually listen to Elvis Presley's music for enjoyment retain other images; the young buck blazing out across the airwaves, the movie Elvis (Never a favourite with self) and the Comeback Special Elvis that paved the golden path to immortality with Vegas Elvis - the King reclaiming his title with that prerogative of the true Star - a change of style. As with Madonna later, the King went through different styles and phases - always ahead of the curve (Lets not dwell on those movies. Really.) and always fresh, exciting and re-inventing his creation; popular entertainment with glitz and in-your-face pizazz. Here's some I made earlier...

Elvis Aaron Presley aged two, with his Mum Gladys and Dad, Vernon. Simple folk, Gladys was a devoted mother who babied her son to excess. Vernon was a shirker, who had done some jail time as a young man. Elvis remained fiercely loyal to both.

The two shots above were processed from the originals by legendary Photographer Alfred Wertheimer. Allowed unprecedented access to the young Elvis, Wertheimer's unobtrusive shots are a unique record of both the man and the time.
By now everyone wanted Elvis' signature - not always the fans.
GI Blues - Elvis was determined to 'do his bit' regardless of the extra pressure of fame. On the verge of beginning his service, his Mother Gladys died. A grief-stricken Presley was given compassionate leave to see her buried before posting to Germany.

Elvis married Priscilla Beaulieu in Las Vegas on May 1, 1967. They had been seeing each other since meeting in 1959. Sadly, the marriage fell apart, largely due to the constant separation and strain of showbusiness. The couple had one child, a daughter - Lisa Marie Presley was born February 1st 1968.
Elvis was a law enforcement nut - even going to meet President Nixon to offer his services in the war on drugs. In later years a heavy drug user himself, ironically it was his drug use and lifestyle that was to cut short his life. Here he poses jokingly for a police 'mug-shot'. Elvis had a huge collection of police badges as well as firearms.
Starting in 1969, Elvis launched a come-back of unrivalled proportions, perhaps only Sinatra's coming close. In 1973 he reached a global audience with a live show in Hawaii broadcast by satellite for the first time. The Aloha! from Hawaii album remains a record-breaking achievement. During the early seventies Elvis' Las Vegas appearances set a record for attendances that has never been equaled.
Some snapshots of Elvis
Elvis reached his forties, but the years on the road had taken their toll. Pushed by his manager 'Colonel' Parker into doing two week tours of provincial towns and cities, Elvis fell apart. His drug use was now out of control, fueled by lackeys too concerned for their own jobs to try to help him and private doctors who just saw their bank balances swell with their patient. By 1977 it was clear that Elvis was in serious trouble, yet he continued to give his all for the fans that still adored him.
The Last Picture; taken by a fan at the gates of Graceland the night before his death. Elvis Presley was found dead on his bathroom floor by his girlfriend Ginger Alden on the 16th of August 1977. His funeral cortege passed by a line of mourners over six miles long.

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