Beatles photographer Astrid Kirchherr dies aged 81

German photographer Astrid Kirchherr, whose striking images of The Beatles in the early 1960s helped turn them into cultural icons, has died aged 81. (AFP pic)

LONDON: German photographer Astrid Kirchherr, whose striking images of The Beatles in the early 1960s helped turn them into cultural icons, has died aged 81, German media reported Saturday.

Kirchherr passed away in Hamburg following a serious illness, those close to her told several media outlets, including the weekly Die Zeit and NDR public television.

She met and befriended The Beatles in 1960 during a tour in Hamburg, before they achieved worldwide fame.

At the time, the group was made up of five members: John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, as well as bassist Stuart Sutcliffe and drummer Pete Best, who was later replaced by Ringo Starr.

Sutcliffe fell in love with Kirchherr and stayed on in Hamburg, but died from a brain haemorrhage in 1962.

Kirchherr took numerous photos of the group, showing them both as rebels and romantics. She later lived mainly off the reproduction rights of the pictures, NDR said.

She was also behind the group’s so-called mop-top hairstyles of the early 1960s.

The photographer later kept in touch with The Beatles, Harrison in particular.