A Lifetime of Pictures
Part III: Early Years

Photos 1 | Photos 2 | Photos 3 | Photos 4 | Photos 5

Elvis Presley bought his first guitar back in 1946 with some help from his mother for his 11th birthday.
But Elvis didn't want a guitar; he wanted a .22 rifle.
His mother wouldn't hear of it. She helped him put up the $7.75 for the instrument.


Photographs © Alfred Wertheimer, all rights reserved.

Elvis, 21, and his mystery blonde caught in “The Kiss”—one of 48 shots taken by Wertheimer that day—
in a stairwell at the Mosque Theatre in Richmond, Virginia, minutes before a concert, June 1956.

Elvis brings his “date for the day” along for the taxi ride
(with Junior Smith—the brother of Elvis’s road manager Gene—pictured far right) to the theater, Virginia, June 1956.

Gray—then Bobbi Owens—enjoying cocktails with her Canadian date
while on vacation at the San Juan InterContinental Hotel, Puerto Rico, 1959.
Note the resemblance between Gray here and in the Elvis taxi-ride photo, taken three years earlier.

Bobbi, flaunting her youthful figure and four-foot-eleven frame, in the early 60s.

Elvis’s 1956 date Barbara (“Bobbi”) Gray on her 71st birthday, April 5, 2007.

Elvis and his new acquaintance at the Jefferson Hotel diner, Richmond, Virginia, June 1956.

Elvis and Bobbi—who had never heard his name until the previous day—
get cozy in vinyl chairs at the hotel, Virginia, June 1956.

Bobbi loosens up as the rising “King of Rock ’n’ Roll” shows her his script
from an upcoming performance on The Steve Allen Show, Virginia, June 1956.

The 20-year-old dancer and model musters a smile at the coffee-shop counter, Virginia, June 1956.

Elvis flirtatiously whispers and shouts in Bobbi’s ear at the hotel, Virginia, June 1956.

Elvis and his manager Gene take care of hotel business
as Bobbi stands by, Virginia, June 1956.

The musician and his date exit the hotel’s side door to take a short cab ride
to his performance at Richmond’s Mosque Theatre, Virginia, June 1956.

Elvis jokingly chokes Bobbi alongside Junior Smith on the ride to the theater
for his performance later that night, Virginia, June 1956.

Bobbi smooths her hair after Elvis playfully tousles her feathers on the way to the show, Virginia, June 1956.

Elvis, Bobbi, and Smith anchor the backseat of the cab, Virginia, June 1956.

Elvis pretends to lean in for the kill, June 1956.

Bobbi puts up a fight with the mischievous rocker, June 1956.

The couple steal away from the concert’s crowd for
a private moment backstage, Mosque Theatre, Richmond, Virginia.

As Wertheimer approaches the couple unnoticed,
Elvis closes in on Bobbi in the theater’s stairwell, Virginia, June 1956.

The couple slowly warm up to one another backstage, Virginia, June 1956.

Elvis pins Bobbi in the stairwell, minutes before the show, Virginia, June 1956.

With Wertheimer perched above, Elvis pulls his date in
with clasped hands and a smoldering glare, Virginia, June 1956.

After the photographer slides past the couple to find an angle with better lighting,
Elvis goes in for the kiss and misses his mark, Virginia, June 1956.

Elvis pulls back and pauses—taunting Bobbi with a kiss—
before he hits the stage, Virginia, June 1956.


Elvis on a train home to Memphis after his appearance on The Steve Allen Show, July 1956.

Elvis at home with Barbara Hearn, a high-school girlfriend.

Elvis on the Dorsey Brothers' Stage Show.

Elvis with composer Mike Stoller (left) and lyricist Jerry Leiber (right)
who wrote hits performed by Elvis ("Hound Dog," "Jailhouse Rock," and others).
Leiber died August 22, 2011 of cardiopulmonary failure, and was 78.




Copyrights on all of the above photos are held by respective owners