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Images of Elvis Presley before he was famous

A new exhibition finds Elvis in a relaxed mood, on the cusp of stardom. By Charlotte Cripps

Not many photographers can claim to have said "Elvis who?" but when the photojournalist Alfred Wertheimer was given an assignment to photograph the 21-year-old Elvis Presley in 1956, the year that Elvis truly became a star, he had no idea who he was.

These behind-the-scenes shots include Elvis relaxing with his former high school sweetheart, Barbara Hearn, in the living room at his parents' Memphis family home, 1034 Audubon Drive, where he also lived for a year before moving to Graceland. Elvis is playing her his latest songs, including the just recorded "Hound Dog". Many of Wertheimer's photos were taken on a train trip from New York to Memphis – Elvis is seen looking out of the train window listening to his recordings on a record player – but other images show Elvis combing his quiff in a dressing room mirror and lounging on a sofa, sifting through fan mail at a New York hotel.

Elvis at 21: New York to Memphis is at Proud Chelsea, London SW3 (www.proud.co.uk) from 18 November