Sad to read in The Guardian that Astrid Kirchherr1 has died. She was 81. That’s not a bad age, and it’s not like I had followed her career. I just knew her as a photographer who had worked with The Beatles, and been Stuart Sutcliffe’s partner till he died.
But from my early reading of Beatles books – like The Beatles: An Illustrated Record – onward, I was aware of her as part of their story, their mythology.
More than that, though, as the article above, as well as her obituary, will tell you: she was the one who gave them their early look. She made them the “lovable moptops.” They’d have been successful without the haircuts, of course, but there’s no denying the importance of that early image.
I think I’m saddened more because of what her death represents. I was born the year The Beatles took America. They had long split up by the time I developed any musical awareness.2 But they were the first band I really got interested in, when my sister gave me a tape. They were my favourites until punk came along, and I love them still.
But that whole generation is ageing – well, who isn’t, of course – and will soon be gone. And mine not too far behind it. So what it all comes down to is that Astrid’s death reminds me of my own mortality, and there’s no excuse for that!
Brilliant photos, though.