In 1960, German freelance photographer Astrid Kirchherr met five lads from Liverpool. Kirchherr was a student in art and fashion at the time, and often photographed bands when they stopped off in her native Hamburg. These five lads were called John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe, and the young photographer was struck by their “raw energy, beauty and attitude”. Romance soon followed, with Kirchherr becoming engaged to bass player Sutcliffe.
When Sutcliffe tragically died in 1962, it was Kirchherr who captured the moment when a sombre Lennon sat down in Sutcliffe’s attic studio to mourn the loss of his friend. In 1964, Kirchherr shadowed the band on the set of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, before going on to take moody, atmospheric shots around the streets of Liverpool.
Over the years, Kirchherr had photographed the band many times, with George Harrison proclaiming: “She was the one who really influenced our image more than anybody. She made us look good.”
She was later used as a creative consultant on the biopic ‘Backbeat’. She praised the performance of actor Stephen Dorff, who played the part of Sutcliffe in the film, commenting that he was the right age (19) and his gestures, particularly the way he smoked and talked, were so like Sutcliffe’s that she had goose pimples.
Now, a new book, “Astrid Kerchherr with the Beatles”, containing over 72 evocative photographs has been released. The grainy, gritty images capture perfectly the dark, brooding mood of those early days, and according to publishers Damiani, the book goes on to “explore the close and intimate relationship which grew between her and the band.”
You may not care too much for money, but you should care about owning this book if you are a Beatles fan. “Astrid Kirchherr with the Beatles” is on sale from 1st March, priced £22.50.