Monday, March 21, 2011

For Elvis fans only

"The blues had a baby and they named it rock and roll."-Muddy Waters

...

For more than 25 years the photograph haunted me.

From the time I first saw it on a desk in the photo department of the Miami News, I sensed there was something special about it.

Shot in the days following the birth of a musical genre called rock 'n roll, it is, quite simply, the single greatest image ever made of a rising young star named Elvis Presley.

It was shot by the great Miami News photographer Charles Trainor, Sr. during one of seven concerts Presley gave in Miami over a two day period in August, 1956.


But, for a long time, that was all I knew about the image.

Over the years I kept seeing the photo in magazines.

Every time LIFE magazine or Rolling Stone did a special on Elvis or The Fifties or the history of Rock and Roll, that picture ended up being used...usually on the cover.


After old issues of the Miami News became available on Google, I was able to search and find the paper that carried stories of Presley's two days in Miami.

Trainor passed away in 1987, but with a little old-fashioned shoe leather, I tracked down and interviewed another former Miami News photographer named Don Wright who covered the concert with Trainor. At the time Wright was an up and coming shooter who went on to become a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist at the paper.

Armed with a treasure trove of new information, last summer I wrote a story about Presley's August, 1956 concerts at the Olympia Theatre in downtown Miami.

Trainor's son, Charles Jr., followed in his father's footsteps and now works as a photographer at the Miami Herald.

After his father's death, he was able to salvage some of his dad's favorite negatives.

After my story was posted, he promised me would send me a print of the Elvis photo.

Today, a beautifully printed, exhibition quality 16x20 print arrived in the mail.

It's been so long since I've seen a real black and white print with dazzling whites, rich, velvety blacks and silky mid-tones that I'd almost forgotten how beautiful one can be.

I called Charlie to thank him.

I asked him if he still gets requests for copies of the Elvis print and he said most definitely. He said he fills an occasional request for fine art collectors.

He said another one of his father's most requested prints is that of Cassius Clay clowning around with the Beatles in Feb. 1964 at the Fifth Street Gym.


I reminded him that next August is the 55th anniversary of Presley's Miami concert and that perhaps there are some who might like to give one of the prints as a gift.

Charlie assured me that he has copies to mail out.

So, if any Random Pixels readers are interested, just shoot me an email and I'll forward it to Charlie. Click on my email link at the upper right hand corner of this blog.



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