|Paul and Astrid Kirchherr. All photos are credited to Astrid Kirchherr.|
Paul McCartney and Astrid Kirchherr in Tenerife, 1963. Astrid, born 20 May 1938, was a German photographer who was a photographer from 1960 to around 1967. She left the scene permanently in 1967, which entirely coincidentally was around the time that Linda McCartney came along. But, that's an entirely different story and, no, Linda did not "replace" Astrid or anything like that.
Astrid met Stuart Sutcliffe in a Hamburg bar, the Kaiserkeller, in 1960. Stuart just so happened to be playing bass with a British group of young lads from Liverpool (apparently already called the Beatles at that point, which would place the incident after mid-August). Astrid met Stuart's mates - Paul, John, George, and Pete Best - and got along with them. She was a fetching young woman, so what's not to like?
Astrid obviously flirted with the Beatles, as these photos prove, and hung around them after Stuart's untimely death in 1962. She later took up with Klaus Voormann, another musician. In fact, Voormann was the one who first noticed the Beatles and induced Astrid to go see them. Astrid Kirchherr may, in fact, have been the Beatles' first groupie, because she became enamored with them and would sit in the front row at all of their performances in Hamburg. Sutcliffe noticed Astrid, Voormann, and Jurgen Vollmer, their friend, sitting by the stage every night and introduced himself. At that point, Astrid's professional photography skills came into play, and the group was flattered that a pro photographer wanted to snap them.
Kirchherr apparently also introduced the Beatles to drugs, though that's a difficult case to prove. Astrid's mother was friends with a chemist who gave her as much Preludin as she wanted, and Astrid gave the drugs to the Beatles. After the Beatles returned to England, Astrid would visit the Beatles on holidays - John and Cynthia Powell (his then-girlfriend) in Paris, and, as shown here, Paul and George in Tenerife. Everyone stayed friends through the 1960s and they visited from time to time. There is a well-worn story that Astrid played some role in choosing the Beatles' mop-top haircuts and unique sense of clothing style, but Astrid downplays her role. But, Kirchherr undoubtedly had a role in exposing the Beatles to influences that did lead to those changes.
After getting frustrated about her lack of success as a photographer, Astrid married English drummer Gibson Kemp in 1967. Kemp, strangely enough, had replaced Ringo Starr in Rory Storm and the Hurricanes when Ringo joined the Beatles. She later married a German businessman. Astrid now lives in Hamburg and sometimes gets involved with Beatles projects, but basically stays to herself.
Anyway, this is just a flashback and a chance to talk about the Beatles early days. Paul has changed. And yet, he hasn't. 1963.