Say hello, hello to a stunning new book of photographs of the Fab Four themselves, shot by Astrid Kirchherr who according to none other than George Harrison, was “the one, really, who influenced our image more than anybody. She made us look good.”
Kirchherr was still just a student of art and fashion when she began turning her lens to greats like The Beatles when they visited her native Hamburg. At that time, the band was still pre-Ringo, with a lineup of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe. According to the book’s publisher Damiani, the young photographer “was struck by their 'raw energy, beauty and attitude' and there was an instant attraction between her and the band's bass player Stuart, to whom she soon became engaged.” Hard luck for her boyfriend, the artist Klaus Voormann, who had initially introduced her to the band in a club on the Hamburg's Reeperbahn.
The book of Kirchherr’s images, entitled Astrid Kirchherr with The Beatles, presents more than 70 images alongside materials that “retrace the close and intimate relationship which grew between the photographer and the band, portraying them as only she could - 'with precise shots, technical mastery and a totally unique style and attitude’.” It also features an introductory essay by Vladislav Ginzburg. The snaps in the book include early shots of the original line-up at a fairground in Hamburg in 1960, self-portraits, shots of Voormann and Reinhart Wolf, and portraits of Sutcliffe in Reinhart's studio and other locations after he left the band to develop his career as an artist.
When Sutcliffe tragically died in 1962 “Astrid captures the moment when John sits down to mourn in Stuart's attic studio, supported by George. Sensing the gravity of the moment John asks her to take portraits of him in the dark studio,” says the publisher.
A couple of years later, Kirchherr shadowed The Beatles during the filming of A Hard Day’s Night in 1964 with photojournalist Max Scheler for Stern, using 35mm film for the first time. Her candid snapshots narrate the dichotomy of what it means to be a celebrity on set, and off it, and she went on to shoot the grittier streets around Liverpool and teenagers outside the Cavern Club.
You can’t buy me love, but you can buy this book when it’s published on 1 March this year, for £22.50.
Astrid Kirchherr, John Lennon, Stuart Sutcliffe and George Harrison on a truck at the fairground, 1960
Astrid Kirchherr, Boys outside of the Cavern Club, 1964
Astrid Kirchherr, John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe at the fairground, 1960
Astrid Kirchherr, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, 1963
Astrid Kirchherr, The Beatles at the fairground, 1960
Astrid Kirchherr, The Beatles on set at A Hard Day's Night 1964
Max Scheler, Astrid Kirchherr in front of the Cavern Club, 1964
Astrid Kirchherr, self-portrait, 1960
Astrid Kirchherr With The Beatles, cover