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Elvis & The Birth of Rock

The Photography of Lew Allen

Lew Allen & Mike McCartney

Elvis & the Birth of Rock documents an extraordinary bygone era of the music in the fifties where bus tours travelled the States, often presenting several legendary performers in a single billing, through the eyes of photographer Lew Allen and the words of Mike McCartney.

'Everyone's greatest influences appear in their teenage years. It's that magical time. Lew Allen lived among Elvis, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly - all the people who influenced us as kids.' Mike McCartney

Lew Allen's remarkable photography is published here exclusively. His rare book captures Elvis Presley on stage and behind the scenes; Buddy Holly playing and travelling, only a year before his untimely death; The Everly Brothers as headliners with their hit 'Wake Up Little Susie'; Frankie Avalon primps in front of a mirror; Buddy Holly and Don Everly share private jokes and Bobby Darin singing on stage, winking for Lew's camera.

'Remarkable photos of Elvis... Lew Allen had exclusive access to the King at the very start of his ascent to fame.' Uncut magazine

The Photography

Elvis & The Birth of Rock

'Looking back, I realised that I had witnessed and captured the birth of rock 'n' roll.' Lew Allen

1956 was a defining year for Elvis Presley as he rocketed from regional celebrity to national icon. In January, his first Number One hit, 'Heartbreak Hotel' was followed by his first album topping the charts in March.

On November 23rd 1956, a 17-year-old boy from Cleveland, a passionate photographer who worked for his high school newspaper, was invited to photograph Elvis Presley at the Cleveland Arena, Ohio. A labour strike at the three major newspapers in Cleveland meant that Lew Allen was the only photographer at the show.

'I didn't even shoot all the film I had with me! Had I known what I know today, things would have been very different!' Lew Allen

'I instantly fell in love with Lew's work... The photos transported me to a very special time in music...' Mike McCartney

Interspersed among the photographs of Elvis, are images from two shows in Rochester, New York in 1958, both part of popular music bus tours throughout the States, which included several now legendary groups on the bill. These rare photographs capture Buddy Holly a year before his untimely death, The Everly Brothers as headliners with their hit 'Wake Up Little Susie', Frankie Avalon primping in front of the mirror, Buddy Holly and Don Everly laughing at a private joke, Bobby Darin winking on stage.
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The Manuscript

Elvis & The Birth of Rock

Alongside the stunning photography, Elvis & the Birth of Rock features a text of over 7,000 words where Lew and guest editor Mike McCartney describe what is was like to be in the presence of these now legendary performers.

'Buddy's running off the stage at the end of his performance and the eyes of all of the musicians are on the orchestra leader, who is over to the left somewhere. Nobody is watching Buddy. It defines music in transition. A swing band backing a rock 'n' roll musician. It was just another gig for Sam Donahue, since they were a local band.' Lew Allen

'I was standing in the hallway and one of the managers came up to Elvis and told him there was a girl on the telephone who was in the hospital. She had tickets for the show and couldn't come as she had a very serious illness. Elvis said, 'I want to talk to her,' and he marched in to a room and held up the entire show for 15 minutes to talk to that girl. He had a long conversation with her and asked her several questions, with warmth and interest. I remember he said, 'No honey I don't have a blue Cadillac. I've got a pink one, a black one, a white one - oh yeah I do have a blue one.' He was a gentleman and I respected that immensely.'  Lew Allen
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The Author

Elvis & The Birth of Rock

On November 23rd 1956, a 17-year-old boy from Cleveland, a keen photographer who worked for his high school newspaper, was invited to photograph Elvis Presley at the Cleveland Arena, Ohio. A labour strike at the three major newspapers in Cleveland meant t

It was Bob Shatten, Lew's nephew, who began the process towards this momentous book back in 1988 when Lew dug out some old contact sheets which had been gathering dust in his basement for years. Lew, Bob along with Mike McCartney provide an entertaining and illuminating commentary to the photographs, describing their context and significance.
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The Collector Edition

Elvis & The Birth of Rock

Collector copies are numbered 351 - 1,750 and are signed by the photographer, Lew Allen, and guest editor Mike McCartney.

Lew's photographs are printed in an opulent duotone with image varnishing on heavyweight matt art paper and bound exquisitely in blue suede. Archive-grade paper, a custom-designed box, silver edging and a production quality second-to-none make this book a real collector's piece that will continue to give enjoyment for many years to come.
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The Deluxe Edition

Elvis & The Birth of Rock

Limited to an edition of just 1,750, the first 350 copies are Deluxe editions and come with three signed and numbered limited edition prints of Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers and Bobby Darin. All copies are signed by Lew Allen and Mike McCartney.

Lew's photographs are printed in an opulent duotone with image varnishing on heavyweight matt art paper and bound exquisitely in blue suede. Archive-grade paper, a custom-designed box, silver edging and a production quality second-to-none make this book a real collector's piece that will continue to give enjoyment for many years to come.
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Elvis & The Birth of Rock

The Photography of Lew Allen

Select from the following editions:

Elvis & The Birth of Rock

Elvis & The Birth of Rock

  • ISBN:
    9781905662005
  • Collector:
    1450 copies
  • Signed by:
    Lew Allen, Mike McCartney
  • Contributors:
    Bob Shatten
  • Paper:
    200gsm matt art acid-free paper
  • Binding:
    Quarter-bound in blue suede, with printed Imitlin boards, black tooling and silver page edging.
  • Box:
    Hand-made box
Collector £245

An extraordinary insight into a bygone era, when musicians travelled by bus, casually helped each other with lyrics, carried their own stage outfits and were backed by the local orchestra. Guest edited by Mike McCartney.

  • Page size: 360mm x 260mm
  • 156 pages
  • 7500 words
  • 78 images
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Since 1974 Genesis has created signed limited edition books on behalf of authors and artists ranging from the Beatles to Buckingham Palace.

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