In the early sixties, Astrid Kirchherr and friends regularly visited the Kaiserkeller Club in Hamburg to see a band that referred themselves to as the Beatles perform, not knowing they would one day become one of the most famous bands in the world. It was before Ringo Starr was even part of the group.
Being an art student Kirchherr asked the Beatles to allow her to take photos of them and the first professional photographs of the Beatles came up.
Astrid Kirchherr, a German photographer and artist, may be most famous for taking the very first professional photographs of the Beatles.
In the early sixties, Kirchherr and close friends Klaus Voormann (who later designed the Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ cover) and Jürgen Vollmeer, who all attended the same art school, watched a British band called the Beatles perform in the Kaiserkeller at the Reeperbahn in Hamburg. The Beatles were then a group of five Liverpudlians, including John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best, and Stuart Sutcliff. Richard Starkey, better known as Ringo Starr, was the drummer of Rory Storm and the Hurricanes back then.
The 3 art students were stunned. Never had they heard this new kind of music that they called ‘Rock n’ Roll’.
They became friends with the Beatles. Kirchherr, who showed a great talent for black-and-white photography, eventually asked for a photo session with her Rolleicord camera. The Beatles agreed and impressive photographs came up, which captured the Beatles during their Hamburg days.
Sutcliffe and Kirchherr soon fell in love and even got engaged. But their plans to get married failed tragically, as Sutcliffe died by brain hemorrhage in 1962, being only 21 years old.
Astrid Kirchherr remained friends with the Beatles and also accompanied them while they where filming ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ in 1964, where she took more iconic photographs of them.
Although shooting the Beatles helped Kirchherr to become known all around the world, it simultaneously seemed to be kind of an obstacle to her.
People were only interested in her photographs of the Beatles and ignored her other work. She questioned her photographic skills and eventually gave up in the seventies and eighties. Also she mentioned how hard it was to be accepted as a female photographer in the sixties.
In 1968, George Harrison asked Kirchherr to shoot the cover for his ‘Wonderwall Music’ LP, which may be one of the last photographs she took.
I really appreciate her work and find it a pity she ended her career as photographer so soon. Unfortunately, it is hard to find any non-Beatles related pictures since people simply were not interested in them and only focused on her Beatles-portraits, as I already mentioned. But her compositions had indeed a very special atmosphere around them and I hope you enjoy her pictures as much as I do.
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