Astrid Kirchherr with John Lennon from the Beatles
Foto: Redferns, Max Scheler – K & K. All rights reserved.
Between August 1960 and October 1962, the Beatles – at that time still rather unknown and not fully occupied – spent most of their time in Hamburg, where they met the photographer and art student Astrid Kirchherr, among others. Sixty years later and about a year after Kirchherr’s death, previously unpublished letters, work permits and photos about the band’s time in Germany are now being auctioned.
Astrid Kirchherr was engaged to Stuart Sutcliffe – one of the founding members of the Beatles – who tragically died of a cerebral haemorrhage in April 1962 at the age of only 21. Despite the death, Kirchherr and John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison formed a deep friendship that would last for many years (and in Harrison’s case even until his death in 2001). Kirchherr is also responsible for some of the band’s best portraits of their time in Hamburg and the group’s iconic mushroom hairstyles.
“You have to know that Cyn, me and the other Beatles will always feel the same way about you”
“All the Beatles were in love with her – sometimes a kind of motherly or older sister’s love, sometimes sexual,” says Stefanie Hempel, who was a close friend of Kirchherr and who organizes Beatles tours in Hamburg. “Astrid was so beautiful. But she also took care of them, cared for them in a spiritual and intellectual way, and gave them a new awareness of themselves. It was much, much more than giving them their mop hairdos. In fact, she hated being known as the Beatles’ hairdresser. ”One of the letters that will be auctioned is from John Lennon in October 1962 – six months after Sutcliffe’s death. In it he writes to Kirchherr: “I am really sorry that you are so sad and insecure about yourself. Know that Cyn, me, and the rest of the Beatles will always feel the same way about you. You will always be the Astrid of Stuart for us. ”Lennon continues to write that Cynthia is currently pregnant with“ that little John in her ”.
George Harrison suggests to Kirchherr that “you could make us tea and make us cornflakes”
In another 1962 letter, George Harrison writes that he and Lennon “just got new amps and guitars – Gibson Jumbo Country and Western Style,” adding that “Paul [McCartney] Has a new car – a Ford Classic that’s bigger than mine. ”Harrison also refers to Ringo Starr, who at the time has just replaced previous drummer Pete Best, and writes about him:“ He’s already playing very well. ” Two years later, Beatles guitarist Astrid Kirchherr wrote a letter inviting them to visit him and the band in London. “You could stay in our new London apartment,” he writes, and then suggests, “you could make us tea and make us cornflakes”. Harrison says she shouldn’t write his name on the envelope when she replies. “Instead, write Dave Lloyd to our address on Green Street. Don’t write to George Harrison, otherwise everyone will find out from the postman. “