4 days ago
George Harrison’s handwritten lyrics of two Everly Brothers songs, “So Sad” and “Like Strangers,” 1960.
Linda was very down to earth. She taught me to relax. Her priorities were private rather than public. She didn’t go on television to ingratiate herself. She was just very funny, very smart and very talented.
When I first met her, I realised that as a photographer she was very sympathetic. I can still recall our first meeting. It was at a London club, the Bag O’ Nails, when Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames were playing one night. Across a crowded room, as they say, our eyes met and the violins started playing – but they were drowned out by, of all people, Georgie Fame. Another northerner.
There was an immediate attraction between us. As she was leaving – she was with the group the Animals, whom she’d been photographing – I saw an obvious opportunity. I said: “My name’s Paul. What’s yours?” I think she probably recognised me.
It was so corny, but I told the kids later that, had it not been for that moment, none of them would be here. Later that night, we went on together to another club, the Speakeasy. It was our first date and I remember I heard Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale for the first time. It became our song.
She was always very beautiful. That picture of Linda on the Tube shows her perfectly: beautiful hands, absolutely no make-up, just the structure of the face. The argyle socks that everyone used to make fun of. She had two pairs and used to wear a red one with a green one. She was a very natural girl, naturally blonde. It was a very casual look. That’s how the two of us went around in those days – down into the Tube, and I shot a couple of pictures of her and she shot a couple of me. Soon after the Tube picture was taken I broke up with the Beatles, which was a horrendous thing for me. Linda was very matter of fact, very down to earth – two of the attributes I really needed at the time. And also she was a woman. Until then I’d felt I’d been dating girls – well, except maybe one or two. Linda was genuinely a woman. She had a five-year-old child and I was genuinely impressed by the way she handled herself in life. She just knew how to do it. I found that very impressive.
Linda didn’t take a lot of pictures of the Beatles, but she made the most of the opportunity when she was in the studio, usually at Abbey Road. She was very sensitive about not interrupting. She had this knack of not getting in the way. She had this great style where she would sit in the corner and just pull out her camera and take a couple of snaps and put it away. What I love about the shot of John and me is that it shows the great working relationship we had. It was a joy to work with John, particularly when we were writing and organising, as we were in this picture. I can’t recall exactly what we were doing – maybe a lyric, maybe a running order, maybe the medley on Abbey Road. At some point we had to organise what song would go where. I just love the joy of that picture – it’s beautifully composed. There were also the difficulties of the period – which show up in the film Let It Be – which I think have overshadowed the truth. It was a very heavy period. But this picture shows it wasn’t all like that. There was some light. And that’s how I remember our working relationship. Even though there were some tough moments, this was a great friendship.
She didn’t go on TV and say “This is who I am – hello” and try to ingratiate herself. We didn’t need to do that – it was our life, not theirs. We were too busy living it. When anybody came to the house and met her, they thought she was fantastic. She was just a great person to hang out with: very funny, very smart and very talented. She could just as easily talk to a local postman as a New York art dealer.
It takes time for people to get to know you, especially if you don’t work at it – and she didn’t work at it. Time is the essential factor. People would come round to dinner with us, people like Twiggy and Joanna Lumley. Linda would occasionally do interviews and people would gradually get to know her. The word just got out that she was just a really cool lady. People would say about her: “She’s nothing like the image.” Her priorities were private rather than public, and that’s why it took a bit of time.
For me, probably the saddest and most haunting photograph in this collection is the self-portrait she took in 1997, not long before she died in 1998, in Francis Bacon’s studio in South Kensington. Linda was a great art lover. At the time, she knew she was ill, but she’d had chemo and her hair was growing back. I thought at the time it was a very chic look. She didn’t know she was dying. I’m not actually sure she ever knew she was dying. You have a decision to make as a family as to whether you tell someone and the doctors leave it to you, the immediate family.
I talked it over with the doctor and he said: “I don’t think she would want to know. She is such a strong, forward-thinking lady and such a positive girl that I don’t think it would do any good.” She was fighting right up to the end.
Even on the day before she died, she was out on horseback. She loved riding so much. Sometimes she’d get up on her a horse and I’d say: “You don’t want to get down, do you?” She preferred it up there than on the ground.
5 months ago
Annie Leibovitz was assigned to photograph John and Yoko for the Rolling Stone magazine.
She attempted to photograph John alone, but he insisted that Yoko be part of it as well. Annie, inspired by the album cover of Double Fantasy, tried to recreate something similar to it; she imagined the two would pose together nude.
Yoko would only agree to take her top off, but nothing more, so disappointed, Annie asked her to leave it on. However, John disrobed, curled up beside and wrapped himself around the fully clothed Yoko. Instantly, Annie used her camera and captured the moment forever.
“You captured our relationship exactly.”
On John and Yoko’s way back home from the photo shoot, just several hours later, John was assassinated outside the Dakota.
The day was December 8, 1980.
Within the same few hours that such an influential, outspoken man evinced to the world his intimate bond with his wife, he was shot dead by a man he never really knew.
And - yet - that cruel irony further etches the power of a single moment where an onlooker can truly believe that love is all one needs.
Scan - George on the set of “A Hard Day’s Night” (scanned from The Beatles Anthology)
“George himself is no mystery. But the mystery inside George is immense. It’s watching him uncover it all little by little that’s so damn interesting.” - John Lennon