Beatles photographer Astrid Kirchherr dies at 81

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German photographer Astrid Kirchherr, best-known for her collaboration with The Beatles, has passed away. She died in Hamburg at the age of 81, only a few days before she would turn 82.

The sad news was announced by Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn on Twitter. He decribed Kirchherr as “intelligent, inspirational, innovative, daring, artistic, awake, aware, beautiful, smart, loving and uplifting friend to many.”

Astrid Kirchherr was born on 20 May 1938 in Hamburg, Germany. She studied photography at the
Meisterschule für Mode, Textil, Graphik und Werbung from 1957 until 1960. Between 1959 and 1963 she worked as an assistant for Reinhard Wolf, who was also her teacher.

Kirchherr first saw The Beatles when Klaus Voorman invited her to a club in Hamburg where they were playing. “It was like a merry-go-round in my head, they looked absolutely astonishing,” she later recalled in The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitz. “My whole life changed in a couple of minutes. All I wanted was to be with them and to know them.”

At that time, bassist Stuart Sutcliffe and drummer Pete Best were still members of The Beatles. Kirchherr took the first photo of them as a band in Hamburg in 1960. She later dated Sutcliffe, and they got engaged. Sadly, he passed away in 1962 of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 21.

Despite the circumstances, Astrid Kirchherr remained friends with the rest of the band and took photos of them. According to The Guardian, she took photos of the band behind the scenes of the movie A Hard Day’s Night. In 1968, she also took photos of George Harrison for his solo album, Wonderwall Music.

Aside from working as a photographer, also Kirchherr worked as a stylist and interior designer and she opened a photography shop. She got married twice, but both marriages ended with a divorce. According to multiple sources, she died after a short and serious illness, on 12 May, only eight days before her 82nd birthday.

[via The Guardian]

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