TASCHEN’S A Life in Photographs: Linda McCartney

linda mccartney

Ohhh, Taschen. Yummy, delectable, I-want-to-devour-you-whole Tahhhh-Shen. So beautiful. So sumptuous.

SO expensive.

And yet, somehow, worth every blessed cent.

You taunt me with your provocatively packaged anthologies, teasing me with desire. I covet your sweetly binded spines and secretly despise my fellow mortals who have your volumes proudly displayed on their hand-crafted cabinetry. I am idolatrous of you and, as is evident by these words, you make me want to write very bad erotic fiction and feed you grapes on a velvet tufted divan.

*takes cold shower*

Ok. Now that I’ve regained my composure, on to the task at hand.

I own two Taschen volumes: their vivid and vital city pictorials Los Angeles: Portrait of a City and New York: Portrait of a City, and have countless other titles clutter my wish list. (Anyone care to start a fund with me for The Rise of David Bowie?) But there is one release that has been long since been removed  from the “wish” list and sent straight to the top of “must have” indulgences.

My tongue hit the floor when I first came across the Taschen catalog advertising Linda McCartney: A Life in Photographs. Released in 2011, it is a decadently illustrated 300+ page volume chronicling 1960s Rock Photographress Supreme and the Mother of all Rock moms.

Considering the fact that the only books with “Linda McCartney” on the cover to be found in most households (including mine) are her vegetarian cookbooks, this Taschen edition is a most welcome addition. (But I gotta say– Linda’s split pea soup is all kinds of yum.)

Her life may very well be overshadowed by the incalculably large shadow of her legendary husband– she did marry a Beatle, for goshsakes. And not just any Beatle, but one half of the greatest songwriting team of the 20th Century. And you can quote me. (Actually, know what? You can fight me on it too. That’s what the comments section is for.)

Linda Eastman meets Paul McCartney for the first time at a release party for SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND in London, 1967.
Photographer Linda Eastman meets rock star Paul McCartney for the first time at a release party for SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND in London, 1967.

But Linda was hardly a mere footnote in rock history: she was a chronicler of it.

Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman met and fell in love the way people do in old-fashioned romance novels. Down to earth, no-frills artsy girl happens upon society’s most eligible, rich, handsome bachelor, and the two fall madly in love, throwing convention to the wind, marrying in spite of objections from everyone around them. (Interestingly enough, the same is quite true of the couple’s acutely avant garde counterpart, John and Yoko; although that is another post altogether…)

And yet Linda was never just “Mrs. Paul McCartney.” Although she was an inextricable part of Paul’s life and work, she was much more that the sometimes-mullet-clad, slightly bashful blonde behind the Wings keyboards with the iffy voice. (For the record: all that was Paul’s idea.) Right up to her death in 1998 at the tragically young age of 56 from breast cancer, she was first and foremost a wife, mother, animal-rights activist … and artist.

And a formidable artist too, in her own right, which this new Taschen anthology documents both exquisitely and authoritatively.

Awww look, they even have the same ... haircut. (Paul and Linda on a Wings tour in 1976)
Awww look, they even have the same … haircut. (Paul and Linda on a Wings tour in 1976)

Sir Paul McCartney and his fashion-guru daughter Stella, along with siblings Mary, James and (half-sister) Heather, have collaborated to present this highly personal tribute to a striking artistic talent, devoted mother, and truly gracious lady.

The publisher’s description sums it up perfectly:

From her early rock ’n’ roll portraits, through the final years of the Beatles, via touring with Wings to raising four children with Paul, Linda captured her whole world on film. Her shots range from spontaneous family pictures to studio sessions with Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, as well as artists Willem de Kooning and Gilbert and George. Always unassuming and fresh, her work displays a warmth and feeling for the precise moment that captures the essence of any subject. Whether photographing her children, celebrities, animals, or a fleeting moment of everyday life, she did so without pretension or artifice.

These photos are only a few from the selection of shots that will thrill any fan of 60s rock culture … or indeed, any true fan of photography itself.

All in all, A Life in Photographs is one of their most endearing, heartfelt, and probably their most sentimental volumes to come from Taschen.

Maybe we’re amazed with this book? Let’s make that a definite.

Here are some high res samplings to whet your palette. (All images are copyright Taschen and may not be reproduced.)

Jimi Hendrix and The Experience, 1967
Jim Morrison on a TV shoot with The Doors.
Just your average working mum.
Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holdling Company
John Lennon in 1968 while recording The White Album. It’s equal parts beautiful and chilling.
The Rolling Stones. This was taken on Linda’s fortuitous shoot which secured her future as a rockumentarian goddess.
Evocative shot of Steppenwolf– the first band signed under The Beatles’ fledgling late ’60s’ label, Apple Records.
A cluttered desk at the McCartney farm in Scotland– 1970s.
The McCartneys, Paul, Stella, James (and Linda behind the lens, of course) at home in Scotland.
A press phot-op for The Beatles’ release of SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND, London 1967. Paul would ask for Linda’s number not long after this.
Mr. Macca at home, being very … well, Macca.
Fans outside the Buckingham Palace gate.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s … Macca in hotpants.
Close friend of the McCartney: Lesley Hornby, aka, Twiggy, in 1969.


And, since this is my post and here at the Retro Set we have free reign to do whatever the hell we want … I leave you all with my personal favorite Paul and Linda moment. Paul’s campy but oh-so fun music video featuring Michael Jackson, Say, Say, Say (1983), with Linda very much a part of Paul’s company, pitching in the best she can … bless her darling heart.

We love and miss you, Linda!

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