photo by astrid kirchherr

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Paul McCartney and George Harrison, Brodersweg, Hamburg, November 1960. Photos © Astrid Kirchherr.

“When I look back at the early pictures that I took of The Beatles, they seem so young. But at the same time, they had experienced so much. It was a real contrast, and I tried to capture both sides of their personalities in these photos.” - Astrid Kirchherr, The Beatles: Classic, Rare & Unseen

“We just walked round in another area […], and by accident I had a camera with me and they said ‘Oh let’s take a picture there’ and I didn’t feel like it, so I just said ‘Oh well stand over there and look at me’ and that’s why I took those pictures. I never liked them.” - Astrid Kirchherr, Astrid Kirchherr: A Retrospective [x]

The Beatles, Hamburg, late 1962, photographed by Astrid Kirchherr (previously posted at thateventuality here).

“They believed in each other so much - and that’s hard to find. It was in their bodies and souls - this is what we’re going to do, and we’re going to be together for the rest of our lives.” - Roy Young on The Beatles, UNCUT, March 2012 [x]

Rare photo of George Harrison and John Lennon outside the BBC in London, 1963. Photo © unknown.

“[George] had so much respect for John. And he always treated me with so much sweetness. I think he understood real love, deep love, more than the others. Professionally, I always remember how serious he was… how determined he was to make sure that I received the creative credit I deserved. George was a sweet man, who, despite reflections on him by others, was really the least complicated of the Beatles… at least to me.” - Astrid Kirchherr, When They Were Boys by Larry Kane [x]

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Teddy boy George photographed by friend Jurgen Vollmer in 1961 at Rabenstraße Stop in Hamburg.

“In 1960, Astrid Kirchherr took some superlative photos of The Beatles in Hamburg. She took none at all in 1961, scaling back her work to help out Reinhart Wolf. His other assistant Jurgen Vollmer made up for it. Early in this second visit he asked George to go out with him for a few hours for a solo session, and George agreed, slipping into his leather jacket and greasing back his quiff. The others showed their intrigue with nods and winks. They knew Jurgen had a crush on George; he sometimes wore an I LIKE IKE badge he’d altered to read I LIKE GEORGE. ‘It was chemical,’ says Jurgen. ‘I liked George the most. He was very quiet and shy, like me, and also a dreamer.’ 

This was an experimental day, because Jurgen had never done a photo session before. He was using a Rolleicord camera borrowed from Wolf, probably the same one Astrid had used for her first shoot. The results were similarly excellent. He fired off a role of twelve black-and-white photos on the Alster ferry, and eight more frames on the landing stage at Winterhuder Faehrhaus, and George’s character and youth shine fresh from the spring images.

George was well liked by his Hamburg friends. Klaus remembers that they were fond of his long eye-teeth, his Segelohren (protruding ears) and the seemingly involuntary way his leg twitched when he played guitar. Jurgen smiles as he recalls, ‘Stuart told me that when George got back to the others, after spending the day with me, he didn’t say anything except “Jurgen is fab”. Just that, nothing else.’”- excerpted from “Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years Volume I” by Mark Lewisohn

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The Beatles, Der Dom, Heiligengeistfeld, Hamburg, 1960, photographed by Astrid Kirchherr.

“I just freaked out when I saw them for the first time.

The music and the way they performed, and they were so beautiful with their leather jackets. Their humour was so amazing.

They had such different characters. They were absolutely individual but as soon as they got their instruments there was one group which sounded beautiful together.” - Astrid Kirchherr on The Beatles, Daily Post (Liverpool), 27 August 2010

"The way The Beatles looked was amazing. I don’t think they were aware of just how good they looked. All the girls in petticoats and beehives loved them as they had greasy hair and leather jackets, and looked dangerous.

[…] When you see five boys away from home, living in awful conditions in a cinema, washing in a toilet, you can’t help but have motherly feelings for them. They would come to my house and my mother would make ‘the poor boys’, as she called them, tea and toast and baked beans, which, of course, they loved.’

Astrid’s photographs of The Beatles, taken at the local Der Dom fairground, capture this moment. The images of the band standing with their instruments draped across them against a backdrop of old trucks, looking at once skinny, vulnerable and yet utterly convinced of their infalliability, were blunt, cool, and would change the look of pop iconography forever. ‘The boys were so happy with the photos,’ says Astrid. ‘I needed something hard and tough for them to pose against. The fairground was perfect and I still love those photos today.’

[…] ‘Of course it was always Paul that the girls loved the most,’ says Astrid. ‘But they all had different little fan clubs. There was a very intense group who just loved John, though Stuart and George and Pete all had their little followers as well.’” - High Life, April 2011

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"It was everybody’s idea to wear leather as soon as we saw it. Leather jackets were always the thing - Marlon Brando - and jeans. In Germany they had great leather, and our friends wore it. Astrid was dressing like that when we were still just Liverpool scruffs. She was the one who had the leather kecks and the Beatle haircut.” - George Harrison, The Beatles Anthology [x]

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“Astrid was the one, really, who influenced our image more than anybody. She made us look good.” - George Harrison on the early photos Astrid took of the band in Hamburg, The Beatles Anthology [x]