The Beatles’ photographer and collaborator Astrid Kirchherr dies aged 81

Kirchherr was renowned as the first person to photograph the Fab Four

Legendary Beatles photographer and collaborator Astrid Kirchherr has died, aged 81.

Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn revealed the news on Twitter, calling Kirchherr “intelligent, inspirational, innovative, daring, artistic, awake, aware, beautiful, smart, loving and uplifting.” German publication Die Zeit have also confirmed the news.

“Her gift to the Beatles was immeasurable,” Lewisohn added, confirming that Kirchherr died in Hamburg this Wednesday (May 13), a few days before her 82nd birthday. No cause of death has yet been revealed.

Kirchherr was renowned for taking the first ever photograph of The Beatles in her hometown of Hamburg, when they were an unknown five-piece.

Then-member Pete Best wished the photographer a happy 82nd birthday on Twitter yesterday (May 14), calling her a “life long friend” who “took my favourite photo ever of a Rock n Roll band”.

Enjoying a lengthy collaborative relationship with The Beatles, Kirchherr is also known as the person who first suggested that the band cut their hair into what would become iconic mop tops. She was also engaged to one-time Beatles guitarist Stuart Sutcliffe before his death in 1962.

Fans have been paying tribute to Kirchherr on social media, sharing her photographs of the band, and referring to her as the “sixth Beatle”.

George Harrison’s wife Olivia also paid tribute, writing: “Astrid is and was the sweetest woman, so thoughtful and kind and talented, with an eye to capture a soul.

“Our family loved her and none more than George. I am truly saddened but honoured to have known her.”

Kirchherr’s photography of the band was collated into a 2018 book, Astrid Kirchherr with the Beatles.