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.
Danke schön, Astrid Kirchherr. Intelligent, inspirational, innovative, daring, artistic, awake, aware, beautiful, smart, loving and uplifting friend to many. Her gift to the Beatles was immeasurable. She died in Hamburg on Wednesday, a few days before turning 82. RIP. pic.twitter.com/c8UHNK1tj4
— Mark Lewisohn (@marklewisohn) May 15, 2020
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”.
Happy birthday to life long friend Astrid Kirrcher. A great girl who took my favourite photo ever of a Rock n Roll band. Just happened the band were The Beatles. The original five members. #happybirthday #alongroadtravelled #memoriesshared #thebeatles pic.twitter.com/A2V0Fx7JSo
— Pete Best (@BeatlesPeteBest) May 14, 2020
God bless Astrid a beautiful human being And she took great photos peace and love 😎✌️🌟❤️🎶🎵🍒🥦☮️ pic.twitter.com/fGXqDbz5bW
— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) May 15, 2020
Rest In Peace Astrid…. ♥️🙏🏻😘https://t.co/mt7h3lnXtU
— Julian Lennon (@JulianLennon) May 15, 2020
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.”
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. Olivia #AstridKirchherr pic.twitter.com/5Dt7OmuGS8
— George Harrison (@GeorgeHarrison) May 15, 2020
RIP Astrid Kirchherr. Rock & Roll photographer extraordinaire. Sixth Beatle. pic.twitter.com/QIT5WPUGPi
— trevor beattie (@trevorbmbagency) May 15, 2020
iconic photoshoot of the beatles in hamburg, 1960 – photos by astrid kirchherr pic.twitter.com/29jukGB92s
— andrey (@drivemycartney) May 15, 2020
So sad to hear about Astrid Kirchherr. Such an incredible artist and talent. Us Beatles fans owe a lot to her. RIP pic.twitter.com/Tsb6bZi4hM
— kirsten (@paulsighmon) May 15, 2020
Kirchherr’s photography of the band was collated into a 2018 book, Astrid Kirchherr with the Beatles.