Elvis at the Start
BLACK & WHITE
POSTERS & MAPS
THE STORIES BEHIND
It was a slow news day at the Tampa Tribune and the city editor sent me over to the National Guard Armory to photograph a new singer that “Colonel Parker” had just found and thought was the hottest thing around. The Colonel and the city editor were friends and I suspected this was just a way to get one of the Colonel’s latest protégées featured in the newspaper.
I went to the picture editor and asked him what I should shoot of this new performer if I couldn’t get a shot of him singing. He made an offhand remark, “Oh, don’t shoot him on stage because I’ve heard that his moves are too sexually suggestive. Just ask him to sweep out his dressing room.”
Imagine my surprise when I found the place packed with girls. The armory was filled to capacity and there were lines outside waiting to get in. They were all there to see a kid named “Elvis.” A couple of the girls who couldn’t get in waved to him through the chain link fence and he smiled back. Just a small gesture from this charming young man conjured up dreamy looks on their pretty faces.
I went around to the back of the armory and met Colonel Parker. He took me to Elvis’ dressing room and asked what kind of pictures my editor wanted. I said quickly, “He wants a picture of him sweeping out his dressing room.”
Well, that was what had been suggested, and I didn’t know any better.
But Elvis wasn’t famous yet and he had agreed to do whatever was asked of him. The Colonel handed him a broom and the rising star swept his room for me. Later on, I got some good shots of his performance. The show was outstanding and the girls went crazy.
But, the next morning when I checked the newspaper, there was a story about Elvis Presley––but no pictures.
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