Never-before-seen photos have surfaced of Elvis Presley rocking Madison Square Garden in all his jumpsuited glory. The images were taken in 1972 by George Kalinsky, the official photographer of the famed arena, the singer’s estate said Wednesday.
Kalinsky came across the photos while working on a campaign for a billboard company called “Great Moments in New York.” Now one of them is on display as part of the campaign on a three-story billboard atop the Virgin Megastore in Times Square; it shows The King glancing up, his outstretched arms holding the cape of his glittering jumpsuit.
Kalinsky needed to get permission from Elvis Presley Enterprises, the business arm of the performer’s estate, to reproduce Presley’s image for the campaign. The estate asked if he had any more photos, and Kalinsky came back with about 40 unpublished images from Elvis’ second-night performance at the Garden in 1972, said Kevin Kern, spokesman for Elvis Presley Enterprises.
Kern said a team of archivists well-acquainted with publicized images of Presley were quite impressed with Kalinsky’s photos.
“What came from their mouths was `Wow!'” Kern said. “These are very crisp, clear, professional photos of Elvis. It’s such a rare find.”
The collection will be displayed at Graceland starting Memorial Day weekend as part of “Elvis Jumpsuits: All Access,” an exhibit that will also feature more than 50 of Elvis’ famous jumpsuits.
Kalinsky said he didn’t realize at the time that he had so many good shots.
“When I photographed the show, I thought I only had a few good ones,” he said. “I just never really looked at the files until recently.”
Kalinsky has been the official Garden photographer for more than 40 years. He’s also the official photographer of Radio City Music Hall and a special photographer for the New York Mets.
He has photographed scores of celebrities and famous athletes, including Muhammad Ali, Frank Sinatra, Luciano Pavarotti and Pope John Paul II, and his images have appeared in Life, Sports Illustrated, Esquire, Time and Newsweek. Kalinsky’s images of Jimi Hendrix and Sinatra are also part of the Times Square billboard campaign.
Back in ’72, he went backstage to meet Presley.
“He was electrifying in his white jumpsuit, with his cape on,” Kalinsky remembered. “He was quite humble, but he had an aura. There are very few people who have triple-X charisma, and Elvis was one.”