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10th November, 2021

Becoming The Beatles: Astrid Kirchherr

Credited with creating The Beatles’ notorious mop-top haircut, Astrid Kirchherr was a photographer and art school-graduate who first saw The Beatles at The Kaiserkeller in Hamburg’s red-light district.

After the show Astrid, who was with then-boyfriend Klaus Voormann and friend Jurgen Vollmer, met up with The Beatles; John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe & Pete Best – at a fairground for a photoshoot.

 

The edgy black and white photographs became iconic and went on to inspire Robert Freeman’s ‘With The Beatles’ album cover shots.

But while Astrid may be best known for immortalizing the Fab Four in photographs, she also had a hand in cultivating part of their iconic image—the legendary mop tops.

All my friends in art school used to run around with this sort of, what [you’d now] call Beatles haircut,” Astrid told the BBC back in 1995. “And my [first] boyfriend, Klaus Voormann, 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 [ask] me to cut his hair for him.”

The mop top, a mid-length style swept across the forehead, had been popular with the German art scene but it was a dramatic change from what was cutting-edge in Liverpool. Like many other Liverpudlian and British youths, the Beatles had been embracing the Elvis-inspired teddy boy look—greased and swept back.

But once Stuart had his hair styled by Astrid, George soon followed before John and Paul eventually took the plunge. When the Beatles debuted their new cuts, it launched a cultural phenomenon.

Astrid went on to form a relationship with Stuart before the pair got engaged in November 1960. They were together until Stuart’s death in 1962, aged just 21.

Over the decades following Stuart's death, Astrid worked as a freelance photographer and an interior designer among other jobs, and in recent years helped run a photography shop in Hamburg.

Astrid Kirchherr died in 2020 in her native Hamburg, days before her 82nd birthday.

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