Astrid Kirchherr, 1938-2020

Michael Gerber
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And so we say goodbye to one of my favorite parts of the Beatle story, the complex and talented Astrid Kirchherr. Though their influence is impossible to quantify, Astrid, Klaus and the “Exis” are foundational to what John, Paul, George and Ringo became. It was in Hamburg that the Fabs transformed from a group of English teenagers playing sloppy covers of American R&B tunes into a artistic unit with a coherent aesthetic that would take over the world.

The Beatles are so BIG a cultural phenomenon that it can be difficult to see the artistic outlines of other people in their orbit. But Astrid’s talent is obvious in every photo; had there never been a Beatles, Astrid would still have left a mark. And her relationship with Stu has always seemed like equal partnership; of all the relationships in the Beatle story, it’s probably the closest analogue to what John was aiming for with Yoko.

Also, Astrid’s family, whenever it’s mentioned, seems to have played a nurturing role to everyone in the story. What happened next makes this difficult to perceive, but dropping John, Paul, George, Pete, Ringo into the Reeperbahn could’ve had disastrous effects; somehow they managed to have that experience—to take from it, and be changed by it—without long-term damage. People like Astrid and Klaus were probably the reason why, and for that we all owe them a debt of gratitude.

Ave atque vale, Astrid Kirchherr. I always meant to send you Barry Trotter in German. 🙂

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4 Comments

  1. Avatar Alejandra wrote:

    Too many loses to the world this year. Today, aside of the Mrs.
    Kirchherr’s death I found out about Ezio Bosso’s (excelent italian composer). They will live through their artistic work, the best we can do is spread it.

  2. Avatar Cristina wrote:

    Such a talented photographer. Her early Beatles pictures are invaluable.

  3. Avatar Pidpoo wrote:

    IN HONOR OF ASTRID:

    I haven’t seen my other comment or so posted but want to honor the ahead of her time Astrid, an artist who looked and dressed like twiggy before twiggy, skinny, short hair and who wore mini shirts. She was also skinny like the dark haired sixties Edie Sedgwick.

    As a young teen buying up first generation fan collections I became obsessed with real Beatles photos, fan photos, celebrity stills photos. I have many multiple Beatle and solo Beatle photo albums from sixties and the seventies and don’t remember how I got them. However, I remember paying a then expensive $10 a piece for a few of Astrid’s 8×10 black and white glossy prints of the early Beatles. I have always counted these as my greatest Beatles photos and they are certainly my oldest. I since read she began selling them and George advised her after breakup to do this to help her financially.

    I always loved art history, took it in college and the various modern art movements, op, pop and surrealist interested me then. Art then influenced all fashion, designs and architecture as it always has throughout the ages but I was lucky to experience this in my lifetime, to remember Warhol, have the Beatles huge Avedon Beatles posters that were psychedelic. Modern seemed to fade to me unfortunately as the times became more computer influenced. The fifties and early sixties artists lived the whole artistic in a loft lifestyle and I read of Greenwich village. I was in high school when Picasso died and he was the last of the greats to me, though I loved Magritte. Macca and Linda were friends with Kooning, sp?

    No one much but a few Beatles fan penpals via mail collected and sold Beatle or solo Beatles real photos then.It was a female hobby mostly. To me these photographs, as opposed to third hand photos from a book or mag, was the next best thing to being there.

    Astrid’s Hamburg Beatle pics prints I owned allowed me to be where I couldn’t have possibly been as a very young American kid with the early Beatles in Germany.

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