vintage, nostalgia and memories

February 3, 2016

Rare Intimate Photographs of Elvis Presley at a Nashville Recording Session in 1956

In 1954, Elvis Aaron Presley was working as a truck driver for $35 a week. Two years later, he was raking in $12,500 for a week’s work in Las Vegas. Before long, a surname was no longer required to invoke the megastar LIFE dubbed a “howling hillbilly success.”

Though he began recording music in 1953, it was in 1956 that Presley became a phenomenon. That was also the year he first appeared in the pages of LIFE, in a one-page story about the runaway success of “Heartbreak Hotel.”

Here's a collection of rare intimate photographs of Elvis Presley at a Nashville recording session for a new star who would, in due time, become a legend.

Looking like it hurts, Elvis records new song in Nashville studio.

Presley sings expressively while recording a new song in a Nashville recording studio, backed by the Jordanaires, made up of Gordon Stoker, Neal Matthews Jr., Hoyt Hawkins and Hugh Jarrett.

Presley, looking tired and somewhat dejected, leans over a railing in a recording studio during a break from cutting a new record in Nashville, 1956.

Presley (second from right) during a break from recording,1956.

Presley shows a framed gold record of "Heartbreak Hotel" to (L-R) drummer D.J. Fontana, singer Gordon Stoker and guitarist Scotty Moore, 1956.

Presley performs emotionally, even in the privacy of a studio.

Presley sings during a recording session.

Presley sits in a chair during a break from recording a new record n Nashville, while head of Country and Western Artist and Repertoire, Steve Sholes, talks to producer Chet Atkins in the background, 1956.

Presley uses the roof of a taxi to sign autographs for teenage girls outside of the Nashville studio where he had just finished recording a new record, 1956.

(Photos: Don Cravens—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)


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