Astrid Kirchherr, the photographer who took the first pictures of the iconic rock group The Beatles, has died at the age of 81 in Germany. The news was confirmed on Friday by Mark Lewishon, a historian for The Beatles. He tweeted, “Intelligent, inspirational, innovative, daring, artistic, awake, aware, beautiful, smart, loving and uplifting friend to many. Her gift to the Beatles was immeasurable. She died in Hamburg on Wednesday, a few days before turning 82. RIP.”
German Newspaper Die Zeit revealed that Kirchherr died of a “short, serious illness,” Rolling Stone reported.
In 1960, The Beatles performed in Hamburg. Kirchherr attended their show and then convinced the band to partake in a photo shoot. It was the first time The Beatles had their pictures taken together as a band.
According to Rolling Stone, Kirchherr once said about the band: “They were all so young, and I was so different. I was a few years older, I had my own flat, my own car, my own career. They hadn’t met anyone like me before. In some ways I was more like a mother figure.”
Kirchherr Was Engaged to The Beatles’ Stuart Sutcliffe & She Is Credited for the Band’s Mop-Top Look
After meeting in 1960, Kirchherr and The Beatles’ Stuart Sutcliffe began a relationship and they became engaged in November 1960. Sutcliffe left the band in June 1961 to become a painter, and he died in April 1962 of a cerebral hemorrhage.
According to Rolling Stone, Kirchherr was also credited for The Beatles’ mop-top look. The Beatles’ George Harrison once said: “Astrid was the one who influenced our image more than anyone else. It made us look good,” the outlet reported. Kirchherr denied Harrison’s claim, however, saying that many German art students had that haircut at the time.
Fans Reacted to the News of Kirchherr’s Death on Social Media
After the news of Kirchherr’s death broke, many fans took to social media to share their thoughts. One user posted:
They wrote, “Astrid Kirchherr’s early 60s Hamburg photos of The Beatles, Stuart Sutcliffe and her friends are the precise moment when something rooted in American R+B and soul and gospel collided with something European, expressionistic and modernist. Extraordinary instincts, brilliant images.”
Another user posted:
They said, “Astrid Kirchherr with the Beatles on April 1963 in Spain on a holiday. This would be the last time the Beatles would be able to go on a vacation without being recognised. You can see the friendship and the warmth they shared with their dear friend, rest in peace Astrid.”
Another person tweeted:
They said, “Astrid Kirchherr, self-portrait and Beatles shots. RIP. one of the people who helped invent ‘The Beatles — the cover of With the Beatles is essentially an Astrid homage.”
One person posted:
They said, “‘You can add so much drama to a picture by using this half-shadow light. John was very young, very witty, very rebellious. But he had so much sadness behind all that, and that’s what I wanted to show.’ Rest in peace Astrid Kirchherr, you and your art will live forever.”