Visit Elvis at the Clinton Presidential Center

Kerry Kraus

The Natural State has several connections to Elvis. When he was first starting his career in the early 1950s, Arkansas provided many a location for his performances. Numerous communities across the state hosted the future King of Rock ’n’ Roll: Helena, West Memphis, Texarkana, Marianna, Augusta, Leachville, El Dorado and Dermott are just a few communities where Elvis sang. Little Rock, Camden, Hope, Pine Bluff, Newport…the list continues. Sadly, there are no monuments or markers denoting these historic appearances.

A major Arkansas tie to Elvis is Fort Chaffee where, in 1958, he received his famous GI haircut. According to, it was at the barber shop where Elvis coined the phrase “hair today, gone tomorrow,” in a comment to the news media. Today visitors can experience this epic event at the Fort Chaffee Barbershop Museum
in Fort Smith. (top photo)
This summer Arkansas has another link to The King, albeit a temporary one. From June 4 to August 21, the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock hosts the acclaimed exhibit entitled Elvis at 21.”  The photos by Alfred Wertheimer comprise a new Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition which shows Elvis just on the threshold of stardom before he was “The King of Rock ’n’ Roll.”   (middle photo)

In describing the collection of stunning black and white photography, the Smithsonian says “What is so remarkable about Wertheimer’s documentary portraits of Elvis is how fresh and contemporary the pictures still seem, utterly unlike any other portraits of this endlessly scrutinized figure.”

Forty large-format photographs depict the emergence of Elvis during 1956. One of the events Wertheimer captured is Elvis recording “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog” in New York City. Both songs became number one hits, the first and only time in history a single record achieved this distinction. Another preserved moment in time is his concert at Russwood Park in Memphis, the first time he had to have a police escort in his hometown. (bottom photo)
Bottom two photos courtesy Govinda Gallery | Photo by Al Wertheimer
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