One day in Bad Nauheim, March 1959
By Bob Pakes
Elvis recorded A Big Hunk O’ Love a full year before it was released on single in late June 1959. This was the last 45 that was released during Elvis’ stay in the army. The song would reach Billboard’s number 1 spot in August of that year.
The session that produced A Big Hunk O’ Love, was Elvis’ first without loyal buddies Scotty and Bill. Also the photo that was chosen for the single’s cover, was different when compared to the studio shots that had appeared on most of Elvis’ previous picture sleeves since it was shot on location in Bad Nauheim, the small German village Elvis called home for 17 months.
Over the years, more posed shots from the same day have surfaced. But even though professional photo shoots were quite uncommon during Elvis’ army years, the Bad Nauheim shoot most certainly wasn’t well-documented: both the name of the photographer and the exact date of the shoot are unknown.
So far, 16 different photos from that day in March 1959 have surfaced. These are presented in this topic in the best possible quality.
Some of the photos are in color, others in black and white. The reason for this might be that more than 1 photographer was on duty that day, a thought that seems to be strengthened by how Elvis appears to be focusing on different photographers in certain photos.
Do more photos exist? Probably.
If anybody is able to add missing pics (or existing pics in a better quality), please leave a message below. Danke schön.
On this map of Bad Nauheim, the locations have been marked where most of the shooting took place:
1. The old gate / ‘Burgpforte’
2. The restaurant / ‘Gasthaus Zur Krone’
3. The church / ‘Dankeskirche’
4. Bridge 1
5. Bridge 2
Let’s start our tour of Bad Nauheim with it’s most famous Elvis-location: the Burgpforte.
Here we have Elvis posing in front of the arch, with his back against the wall, and looking straight ahead. In the background we see a woman walking towards the arch. A couple is approaching her.
A few seconds later. The woman has passed the couple, and Elvis is now looking into the camera.
Once again, a few moments later. Elvis in about the same postion, but this time there are no people in the background.
Below we see the Soldier Boy bootleg EP that was released by the Vik label in 1998. The photo on the cover of this EP is a little bit less cropped to the left.
A slightly different pose, with his shoulder now leaning against the wall. Underneath the arch we can see some (different) people who are about to cross the street.
This is of course the famous photograph that appeared on the cover of the A Big Hunk O’ Love single (in the USA and Australia). It was also used on an EP with the same name from Germany and on the cover of the Stuck On You single from Japan.
Only moments later. The three people have nearly crossed the street, and Elvis is now looking up.
Just around the corner of the Burgpforte, in the Burgstrasse, is the restaurant Gasthaus Zur Krone that Elvis is passing here while walking in the direction of the Borgforte, so this pic was probably taken a bit earlier.
The restaurant is still in exactly the same style as it was in 1959, as we can see in the pic below, which was taken in september 2012.
The photos on location number 3, were taken in front of Bad Nauheim’s church, the Dankeskirche.
In the photo above, Elvis appears to be looking at a different photographer. Please take a look at the 1959 Christmas card (presented below), also in the pic with the horses Elvis is once again looking in a different direction and not at the photographer who took that particular photo.
In the nice photo to the right, the Lord is my German Shepherd.
Vernon Presley is standing to the right of his son in the photo below to the right. In nearly all of the March 1959 pictures, Bad Nauheim seems to be quite deserted. However, in this pic we can see a small crowd of onlookers. Bad Nauheim was a quiet and tiny town when Elvis lived there, but the lack of people in most of the photos, as well as the well-dressed locals that can be seen in this image, fuel the thought that the day of the shoot might have been a sunday morning.
To the right we see the Christmas card that was sent out in 1959 on behalf of Elvis and Parker.
It’s interesting to notice that the two pics used for this card both show Elvis in a slightly different pose when compared to the photos above.
“Holiday Greetings To You All
From Elvis And The Colonel”
In 2006, 47 years later, EPE revived the ’59 Christmas spirit by sending out that year’s wishes in the style of the 1959 card. The back- and front cover of the CD Holly Leaves And Christmas Trees are shown here.
“Holiday Greetings To You
From Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.”
Elvis on the first bridge, of two bridges he posed on that day.
In the background of these photos, we once again see 5 or 6 casual passers-by that have noticed Elvis and the photographer(s).
Here we have Elvis posing on the second bridge. In the backgorund of this photo, we see the first bridge.
The excellent Greetings From Germany bootleg CD (another release on the Vik label) caused quite an uproar when it was released in 1998.
Some of the pics in this article were scanned from these wonderful books.
The picture with Elvis, Vernon and some guy with a German Shepherd is new to me!! Thanks!
Great pictures, thanks.
I wonder if there are any more pictures from this date.
Strange there is not more known about the exact date or protographer.
Great photos … thanks
Great research! Well done!
Went there on a German tour 6 years back, local tourist office was very helpful, bought the tasty Date With Elvis book from them. Recreated the 45 sleeve pic, info on wall at spot and yes sadly we sang Frankfurt Special on the train back there.
Love this era.
What Trevor said!
Terrific! I was going to add that the lack of people indicated a Sunday shoot. But then I noticed that you’d suggested this already. Are there other photos from the various locations as they look today?
Yes, I took many pics of all locations as they look today (plus other Elvis-Nauheim locations that were not used in the March ’59 shoot, like his house, the hotel, the restaurant, etc), in both wintertime and summertime. Most have my kids in them posing as Elvis though. :-)
Maybe I’ll do a follow-up with then-now pics. It might even include the little town of Idstein, not far from Nauheim, where some filming for GI Blues was done.
Sounds great, Bob. I’ve got to get myself over to Bad Nauheim soon.
Hello, thanks for them great Elvis photos of Bad Nauhelm. I cant wait to go there on the 14 aug-19, it will be my frist time there. I am looking forward to Bad Nauheim.
EXCELLENT research and photos. I wish Australia wasn’t quite so far away and I would be checking them out myself … One Day!
BRILLIANT ! This site just gets better and better.
Wonderful! Must pay Bad Nauheim a visit one day.
I have the original German EP “A Big Hunk O’Love” in
mint condition, i’ve always liked that cover. Excellent
job research and keep up the good work!
Bob, after you had a well deserved rest and holiday,
I would love to see a follow up topic with the snapshots
of you & the kids on location in Bad Nauheim.
You could present it as a genuine holiday scrapbook !
I love them then and now topics. Yessiree Bob!
Good stuff never thought of going there and I am an Elvis fan since 1956.
Over there in May 2014 so will have my photo taken there, long live the King!
I have read that the photographer was Don Cravens. He had spent a month with Elvis in Bad Nauheim.
That would be new to me. I’ve seen Cravens’ photographs of Elvis, but never in connection with the pics of this day in March 1959. What is your source for this, Jove?
This 1986 article seems to confirm this :
“(…) Cravens has another cache of pictures for which the market is unlikely to decline: color transparencies of Elvis Presley taken during the singer’s Army service in Germany in 1959. Cravens had met Presley’s manager, Col. Thomas A. Parker, in Nashville. (They are still friends.) Parker commissioned him to accompany Presley to Germany.
Cravens spent a month with Presley at Bad Nauheim, Germany. Elvis, who had a house in the area, would often ask him to breakfast. “I hated to go to breakfast with Elvis,” Cravens says. “His grandmother was there with him, and two or three cronies–the ‘Memphis Mafia.’ She cooked great rashers of bacon, and he would take the toast and soak it in the bacon grease and eat it–and that made me sick. But Elvis would insist; so I had fried eggs swimming in bacon grease, with mounds of toast.”
For some weeks, Cravens could not persuade Presley to pose for photographs. “It was hard to get him to stay still,” Cravens says. “I’d tell Elvis: ‘The Colonel’s going to raise hell.’ And Elvis would answer: ‘Don’t worry about it. He hasn’t called me yet.’ ”
Eventually, Cravens managed to take some good color pictures: Elvis driving a tank; Elvis shaving in the woods, with his mirror hanging from a tree; Elvis strumming a guitar or kissing a girl who was wearing a German peasant costume. Parker liked the work so much that later, after Cravens had moved to Hawaii, Parker called and asked Cravens to help choose Hawaiian locations for a Presley telecast that was going to be beamed by satellite from Honolulu to Europe and Japan as well as to America.(…)”
I wish we still had 1959 and I was in Bad Nauheim.
Thank you again, and again, Bob.
Looks as if you have absolutely unique photos of Elvis here in Germany. The one with the restaurant “Zur Krone” is the one, I prefer. Do you have any idea, whether Elvis was in the “Zur Krone”? Are there any pictures or does anyone have information about this?
One more information: My Mum saw Elvis in Deilinghofen, Germany (in the Area called Sauerland). He visited an army (CDN-USA Army Teams) icehockey game there. Do you have any information of that, or any picture? Does anyone has any pictures or information about this?
Thanks a lot.
Walking around Bad Nauheim today is a lot of fun, not only because it’s a lovely town but mostly because so little has changed since Elvis lived there.
Elvis, the King then. And the king now. Although he didn’t like being called that!
My boy, my boy!
For a cd cover I need a photo Elvis in the army in Germany.
Anybody who can help?
Would love to see the places were Cilla lived when they met. Where she went to shool, etc.
Great article and excellent research that gives us an insight to Elvis in Germany. Thank you.
Feel better on each article, great job!
I’ve been away from the web too long.
As Ger said recently (which I agree with), there are some great photos here, but the research is superb …
Once again fantastic photographs, but your detective work is outstanding Bob!
Beautiful pictures Bob.
Last year I was in Bad Nauheim and Friedberg with my girlfriend, and it was wonderful. But at the same time it was also a little strange to stand on the same spots where Elvis once stood. We have visited them all, and it was so nice that we are going back this year to do the same route again …
How wonderful to see these photos and read your commentary. I have been an Elvis fan since 1956. Thank you so much for this excellent presentation. I love all the details about this day in the life of our Elvis! Thanks so much.
Looking forward to see all these places this upcoming weekend :)
Thank you so much!
I greatly appreciate the pics. As an Army brat living in Bad Nauheim, age six or so… my mother and I ran into Elvis as the post barber shop. His best friend was John Hodge, if I recall correctly. My mother’s best friend’s daughter, Rhonda, was hooked-up with John, and used to hang out at Elvis’ private quarters, walking distance from the base housing where we lived. Some memories… some stories of old…