Miscellaneous Rumbles

RIP Astrid Kirchherr


Astrid Kirchher, best known for her photos of the early Beatles in Hamburg, passed away May 12th at the age of 81. She took some iconic shots. Rest in peace, Astrid.


Well, and also Stu Sutcliffe's girlfriend.

While she and Stu seem to have been soulmates, she and her family really kinda adopted all the Beatles during their Hamburg stays. Astrid's upper-class home was a comfortable and civilized retreat for them, a short but stabilizing break from the non-stop noise, dissipation, and squalor that characterized the rest of their German adventures. The normal domesticity must have reminded all the Beatles of their homes, and I'm sure they were on their best behavior and at their most charming for the Kirchherr family - who had to have recognized and been taken by the intoxicating mix of intelligence, wit, talent, promise, and whatever innocence yet remained in the young men.

I think Astrid was probably pivotal in the Beatles' career - surely not to the degree of Brian Epstein or Sir George Martin, but without her influence, it's possible they wouldn't have happened in the way they did. Not only was Stu's relationship with her partly responsible for his leaving the band, but Astrid was their adviser in the areas of dress, presentation, and image - not to mention haircuts. She began to shape the clay that Brian later massaged. (But not as intimately as he wanted to...)

That she and her artsy, philosophical circle took the Beatles seriously - saw something more significant than a rock & roll band in them - must have deepened Paul's cultural interests, and fit with John's furtive notion (consistently self-deprecated) that he too was an artist, and amounted to something. As much as he would often appear dismissive of the idea that what the Beatles did was art - something his working-class pose mocked, and his ambition and insecurities at once dared and dared not to assert - Astrid's view of the band had to nourish something in him. In a way she was an early example to him of the kind of muse and creative mirror he found in Yoko - and of a life which could take the arts seriously.

Also - like Stu - Astrid was a great beauty. When I think of too-good-to-last star-crossed lovers, Stu and Astrid appear in my mind along with more noted examples from art and history.

Bon voyage, Astrid. You touched us all in your distant, glancing way, and the world is a richer place for your having graced it. Here's hoping there's a reunion for you and Stu.


While there was already a great photographic archive of early US roots pioneers and solo performers by 1960 she really made the template for how to shoot a band. Such great photos. RIP.


Most of the Beatles inner circle have died... just Klaus Voorman, and one first wife, Patty, remain.

What great pix she got of their early days.


Sigh... another one. RIP, Astrid. You helped to create a revolution back then when you helped the boys adopt a new look, and your handiwork is still being felt.


rip astrid

well writ proteus..an important part of the lads history indeed!



Tim, as always, perfectly stated. Astrid . . .


My favorite, of Astrid's, and of John & George, will be next, apparently. This is in Stu's studio.


THIS is my favorite, of Astrid's, of John & George.

Astrid Kircherr's Beatles Photo Masterpiece; I know that there are others some prefer. Only a genius with a camera can convey this level of love, grief, friendship, as did Astrid. George, the Little Beatles Brother, comforting John, the Beatles Brother, on the death of Stuart Sutcliff soon after he and John had had a fight. John & Stu were so close; Astrid was Stu's lover & fiance. John was distraught. George flew with Stu's mother to return his body home.

In some prints of other angles, George's hand on John's back is visible. This was taken in the attic soon after Stu died, in Stu's studio.


Astrid's photos will always be my favourite of the group. And although she got some with Ringo the early ones from their leather clad days in Hamburg... there's just something so perfect about them.


She took photos that became iconic. This is the prototype for many others in that style I assume and I love it.

Her self-portraits with Stuart are almost heart-breaking since you can see the bonding the two of them had. Instead here's one rather unspectacular live shot that has great atmosphere (and says a lot).


Farewell, Astrid.


I'm very saddened by the loss of this remarkable lady. She really did play a big role in making The Beatles. She sculpted their early Teddy Boy look into something softer and more acceptable to the general public. I have doubts that the Beatles would have become what they did, without her touch. RIP Astrid, I hope you are with Stu right now.


Masterful documentation of a critical time, RIP.


And of course this is one of the all time great self portraits by a photographer.

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