I have always been fascinated by the movie ‘Backbeat’ but in fact more attracted to this lady called Astrid Kirchherr. I remember watching it over & over again while being very inspired by her approach to photography and her dark & moody style and ways. I dressed like her for a while even had my hair cut the same style as her.
I found out today that she is still alive and still living in Hamburg. I plan to visit her shop in december. More about her below. This is trying to paint the picture I saw about 12 years ago when I first watched the movie backbeat.
+stuart & astrid+
Astrid Kirchherr (born 20 May 1938) is a German photographer and artist and is well known for her association with the Beatles (along with her friends Klaus Voormann and Jürgen Vollmer) and her photographs of the Beatles from their Hamburg days.
Kirchherr met artist Stuart Sutcliffe in the Kaiserkeller bar in Hamburg in 1960 where he was playing bass with the Beatles and was later engaged to him before his untimely death in 1962.
Although Kirchherr admitted she has taken very few photographs since 1967 her early work has been exhibited in Hamburg, Bremen, London, Liverpool, New York City, Washington DC, Tokyo, Vienna, and at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Kirchherr has published three limited edition books of photographs.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s Kirchherr and her art school friends were involved in the European existentialist movement whose followers were nicknamed Exis by John Lennon.
In 1995 she told BBC Radio Merseyside:
“ Our philosophy then, because we were only little kids, was wearing black clothes and going around looking moody. Of course, we had a clue who Jean Paul Sartre was. We got inspired by all the French artists and writers, because that was the closest we could get. England was so far away, and America was out of the question. So France was the nearest. So we got all the information from France, and we tried to dress like the French existentialists. … We wanted to be free, we wanted to be different, and tried to be cool, as we call it now. ”
Kirchherr is credited with inventing the Beatles moptop haircut although she disagrees and is quoted in The Beatles Off The Record by Keith Badman as saying:
“ All that shit people said, that I created their hairstyle, that’s rubbish! Lots of German boys had that hairstyle. Stuart had it for a long while and the others copied it. I suppose the most important thing I contributed to them was friendship. ”
In 1995, Kirchherr told BBC Radio Merseyside:
“ All my friends in art school used to run around with this sort of what you call Beatles haircut. And my boyfriend then, Klaus Voorman, had this hairstyle, and Stuart liked it very very much. He was the first one who really got the nerve to get the Brylcreem out of his hair and asking me to cut his hair for him. Pete Best (the Beatles original drummer) has really curly hair and it wouldn’t work.
Kirchherr didn’t publish the photographs until 1995, in a book called Liverpool Days, which is a limited edition collection of black-and-white photographs. In 1999, a companion book called Hamburg Days was published (a two-volume limited edition) containing a set of photographs by Kirchherr and “memory drawings” by Voormann. The drawings are recollections of places and situations that Voormann clearly remembers, but Kirchherr had never photographed, or had lost the photographs.
Kirchherr described how difficult it was to be accepted as a female photographer in the 1960s:
“ Every magazine and newspaper wanted me to photograph the Beatles again. Or they wanted my old stuff, even if it was out of focus, whether they were nice or not. They wouldn’t look at my other work. It was very hard for a girl photographer in the 60s to be accepted. In the end I gave up. I’ve hardly taken a photo since 1967. ”
Kirchherr was quoted as saying that When We Was Fab (Genesis Publications 2007) would be her last book of photographs:
“ I have decided it is time to create one book in which I am totally involved so that it contains the pictures I like most, printed the way I would print them, even down to the text and design…. This book is me and that is why it will be the last one. The very last one.