The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will celebrate its 15th anniversary in part with a new Elvis Presley exhibit set to open this September 13th. “Elvis 1956: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer” will feature intimate photos of the King in the studio and at home, just as he was on the brink of stardom as a 21-year-old. You can preview the collection in our gallery. The Rock Hall will also import over 30 Elvis artifacts from Presley’s Graceland home.
Photographer Alfred Wertheimer was a freelance photojournalist when he captured Presley in 1956, the year Presley released his self-titled debut on RCA. (The album was later named to Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.) That year, Presley also made multiple noteworthy appearances on nationally televised programs like The Milton Berle Show, The Steve Allen Show and The Ed Sullivan Show, with the latter filming Presley only above the waist due to Elvis’ then-controversial hip gyrations during performances of “Hound Dog.”
The Graceland artifacts include a proclamation from the city of Memphis declaring January 25th, 1961 “Elvis Presley Day,” a Guild acoustic guitar used by Presley in 1976, and Presley’s 1974 Best Inspirational Performance Grammy. The Rock Hall’s curatorial director Howard Kramer, who oversaw the execution of the exhibit, highlights items from a March 20, 1974 show in Memphis (which was later released by RCA as a live recording.) “He wouldn’t go back in the studio so they sent a recording truck and figured, ‘Great, we’ll get a live recording out of it,” says Kramer. “So we have the jumpsuit he was wearing and his handwritten setlist.”
Presley was among the Rock Hall’s inaugural class of inductees in 1986, along with Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Sam Cooke, Little Richard, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis.