Sunday, 27 August 2017

Musical Muses-Linda Lawrence

"I will bring you gold apples and grapes made of rubies
That have shone in the eyes of a prince of the breeze
Bright cascading crystals, they dance in the sand dunes
On the beach of no footprints to harpsichord tunes
A throne of white ivory, a gown of white lace
Lies still in the magic of a timeless place"

The inspiration behind many classic Donovan songs, including the haunting, 'Legend of a Girl Child Linda', was his wife and muse Linda Lawrence.

Linda was born in 1947 and as a teenager developed a love for jazz music. When she was fifteen she met and fell in love with Rolling Stone, Brian Jones. They were soon living together and two years later Linda gave birth to their son, Julian. Their relationship proved tumultuous and eventually Jones left her for Anita Pallenberg. During this time Linda met Scottish singer Donovan and they began an off again on again relationship before marrying in 1970. They went on to have two daughters, Astrella and Oriole, and are happily married to this day. Donovan once said, "Linda's in all the songs, Sunshine Superman, Hampstead Incident, Young Girl Blues...Linda's the muse", she was also the inspiration behind one of his best loved songs, 'Catch the Wind'.

Here's a link to an interesting article written by Linda about her time with Brian Jones (also of note, Jones had had two children before he met Linda),

"A princess lay sleeping so gentle and kind
Whilst her prince took to battle with his confused mind"

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Astrid Kirchherr

"Here I was, a photographer, with my own little car, living that sort of carefree artist's life with my friends"

A talented photographer Astrid Kirchherr befriended the most famous band in the world, The Beatles, during their Hamburg days. She fell in love with bassist Stuart Sutcliffe and is credited with giving The Beatles their 'look', but her life was marred by tragedy.

Astrid was born in Hamburg, Germany, 1938. After surviving the bombing of Hamburg during World War Two Astrid decided to become a fashion designer. Whilst at university she was encouraged by the photography teacher, Richard Wolf, to pursue black and white photography. She worked as Wolf's assistant for five years and dated artist Klaus Voormann. She became interested in French existentialism and she and her friends dressed primarily in black. In 1960 Klaus came across The Beatles playing in a seedy part of town known as the Reeperbahn. Amazed by this new music, he and Astrid soon became regulars at the English bands gigs. Astrid was fascinated by The Beatles and was determined to become as close to them as she could. She began photographing them and took thousands of images, including a famous series taken in a fairground, they became some of the first 'professional' pictures taken of the band. Astrid also fell in love with bassist Stuart Sutcliffe. A fellow artist Stuart left the band and moved in with Astrid where he rediscovered his love for painting. Stuart asked Astrid to marry him and they became engaged in November 1960. The following year they travelled to Liverpool where Astrid was introduced to Stuart's family. Around this time Stuart started suffering from intense headaches and frequently collapsed. In April 1962 he was rushed to hospital in an ambulance but he tragically died of a brain haemorrhage in Astrid's arms before they arrived, he was only twenty-one. Astrid was devastated, and was supported through her grief by the other Beatles, particularly John Lennon who had been Stuart's best friend. She continued to visit with them and their girlfriends throughout the sixties and worked as a free lance photographer, but she found that people were only interested in her old work so she eventually stopped photographing in 1967.
In 1968 she married English drummer, Gibson Kemp, but they divorced seven years later. She worked in a variety of jobs including a barmaid, fashion designer, and as a music publisher, and married again, though that relationship also ended in divorce. Astrid has since published several books of her photographs of The Beatles and has been featured in galleries throughout the world. She remains a presence at fan conventions and in her photography shop K&K where she sells vintage prints and books.

Astrid was a woman in a man's world during the 1960s, she struggled to make her voice heard in the photography world but her striking imagery remains inspirational to this day. Her images of The Beatles are a perfect capsule into their pre-fame world and her stark black and white images were the inspiration for the cover of their second album, With the Beatles. Her bohemian lifestyle also provided the young Liverpool lads with inspiration, she and Voormann influenced their hairstyles and clothing choices. She also believed in the group, especially Stuart, and encouraged him in his art. Astrid was also a 'motherly' figure for the group, especially George Harrison, who as the youngest was often homesick.

Pete Best once described Astrid and Stuart's relationship as being like a 'fairy tale' and to this day she refers to him as the love of her life. Their story is one of great tragedy but also of great love. Astrid remains dedicated to his memory and her portraits of him give us a fascinating look into the life of the forgotten fifth Beatle.

As a talented photographer in the 1960s Astrid paved the way for many women who came after her. In the face of immense sadness she has remained a kind and thoughtful person. She is equally as fascinating and enigmatic as her subjects, and her beautiful photographs provide not just a glimpse into the lives of her friends, but also provide a glimpse into her own soul and the things she was passionate about.

"My whole life changed in a couple of minutes. All I wanted was to be with them and to know them"


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Elizabeth Taylor

“The ups and downs, the problems and stress, along with all the happiness, have given me optimism and hope because I am living proof of survival”

A star since her childhood the 1960s provided Elizabeth Taylor with some of her most iconic and critically acclaimed roles. It was also the era in which her personal life became tabloid fodder as she embarked on a public affair with fellow actor, Richard Burton.

Elizabeth Taylor was born in London in 1932. When the family moved to America many insisted that the beautiful Elizabeth, with her dark hair and unusual violet eyes, should be in films. Her first role came in 1942 but it was the 1944 film, National Velvet that cemented her star status. She transitioned easily to adult roles in the 1950s starring in films including, A Place in the Sun, Giant, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly Last Summer. The beginning of the new decade proved controversial for Elizabeth, in 1959 she married her lover, singer Eddie Fisher. Fisher had left his wife Debbie Reynolds for Elizabeth and many turned against Liz, calling her a 'home wrecker'. Still she won an Academy Award for her role in the film BUtterfield 8. That same year, 1960, she began filming the historical epic, Cleopatra. During filming she began an affair with co-star Richard Burton and their actions garnered much press attention, they were even condemned by the Vatican. In 1961 Liz suffered near fatal pneumonia and underwent an emergency tracheotomy. Her illness won her back some support from the general public who were becoming increasingly fascinated with her romance with Burton. Released in 1963 Cleopatra was a box office success. She and Burton were married and the starred together in The V.I.Ps, The Sandpiper and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? which was to become the most acclaimed performance of her career. However towards the end of the 60s Elizabeth's career was in decline. In the 1970s she and Burton divorced and then remarried, only to divorce again. She continued to star in films but battled addiction, ill health and marital difficulties. In her later life she devoted her time to her philanthropic work where she worked tirelessly to raise money for AIDS/HIV causes. She passed away in 2011.

Elizabeth was a controversial star from an early age. Married eight times to seven men she had four children, but it was her relationship with Richard Burton that gained the most media attention. For her actions she was labelled a 'bad mother' and faced increasing hostility from the general public, but she cared little for others opinions and carried out her life on her terms. Her 'Cleopatra' hairstyle and makeup even started a fashion trend, with all things Egyptian becoming very popular during the 60s.

Her roles during this period were also challenging. For her role as the alcoholic housewife, Martha, in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? she gained weight and wore a wig, some not able to recognise the usually glamorous star. She took on roles reflective of her own tumultuous life with Burton and starred in a variety of genres. Though the 1960s are generally not regard as her best period, film wise, it is for the iconic role of Cleopatra that she is best known today.

Elizabeth Taylor was a passionate, vivacious woman. She was dedicated to her profession, beliefs and friends. Sadly today she is most remembered for her 8 marriages but she was a wonderful actress and should be remembered for her onscreen roles and philanthropy.

“Nothing will raise you self-esteem as much as helping others. It will make you like yourself more and make you more likable”

Friday, 28 July 2017

Musical Muses-Sue Sheehan

You're walking round in my memory
That only gets stronger and stronger

The inspiration behind some of The Kinks classic songs, including 'Susannah's Still Alive' was Dave Davies first love, Sue Sheehan.
Dave and Susan, who attended the local girls school, were teenage sweethearts. Unfortunately when Dave was fifteen and Sue sixteen they were discovered having an amorous encounter on Hamstead Heath (an incident that later inspired The Kinks album Schoolboys in Disgrace). Dave was expelled from school and some months later Sue discovered she was pregnant. The young couple planned to marry but their parents separated them, telling Dave, Sue no longer wished to see him and vice versa. It would be thirty years before Dave saw Sue again, or met his daughter Tracey.
The tragedy had a profound effect on Dave and much of his later wild behaviour was in an attempt to deal with losing his first love.
Sue inspired several of Dave's songs, 'Susannah's Still Alive', 'Funny Face', 'Mindless Child of Motherhood' and 'Fortis Green'.

Oh how can I live without her
The doctors won't let me see her
But I can catch a glimpse through the doorway
Of the girl that I love and care for

Monday, 24 July 2017

The Girl in the Song-Marianne Faithfull

Many know that Marianne Faithfull was the inspiration behind several Rolling Stone songs, but did you  know she was also the inspiration for the song 'Carrie Anne' by The Hollies?

Graham Nash revealed that he had been inspired by Marianne but was 'too shy' to mention her name. At the time Marianne had had a brief relationship with fellow Hollie, Allan Clarke but she revealed in her autobiography that Nash was her favourite in the band.
Here are The Hollies performing the song on the 'Smothers Brothers':

Friday, 21 July 2017

Marianne Faithfull

“Between the ages of seventeen and nineteen I shed any number of old lives and grew new ones overnight without any of them seeming quite real to me; I discarded them as cavalierly as a child who moves from one game to another. Pursued in earnest, any one of these might have led to a reasonably happy life. But then again, I wasn’t interested in happiness. I was looking for the Holy Grail.”

With her beautiful voice, aristocratic heritage and wistful style, Marianne was one of the most popular female singers during the 1960s but her tumultuous personal life often overshadowed her talent. For Marianne the 1960s were times of both success and tragedy.

Marianne was born in 1946 in England, on her mother's side she was related to Austrian Royalty. Her childhood was marred by bouts of tuberculosis which also cut into her schooling. By 1964 at the age of eighteen Marianne was performing regularly in folk clubs. At a launch party for The Rolling Stones she met their manager Andrew Loog Oldham and he signed her to a recording deal. Her first major hit was with the Jagger Richards penned, 'As Tears Go By'. Her version peaked at No 9. in the UK charts. The following year Marianne married artist John Dunbar and gave birth to their son Nicholas. She also released her first two albums, Come My Way (UK only) and Marianne Faithfull. Her personal life though was proving tumultuous, as John descended further into the world of drugs, Marianne became unhappy with her life. In 1966 she left John to be with Mick Jagger the lead singer of The Rolling Stones. Between the years 1965-1967 Marianne released three more albums, Go Away from My World, North Country Maid and Love in a Mist. She remained one of the most popular female singers of the era and had great success abroad as well as in Britain. Unfortunately Marianne's association with The Rolling Stones overshadowed her talent and success as a singer. In 1967 she and the other Stones were involved in a drug bust at Keith Richards home. Marianne was found naked, wrapped in a fur rug and following the event her image was tainted by the press and she became addicted to cocaine. The following year she tragically miscarried a baby girl.
Marianne left Mick in 1970, lost custody of her son and battled addiction, anorexia and homelessness. Still she released two albums during this period including the much lauded, Broken English. Marianne successfully reinvented herself as a singer/songwriter in the 1980s and has since recorded over fifteen albums. As well as her singing career Marianne has appeared in several films, including the 1968 film, Girl on a Motorcycle, in which she starred alongside Alain Delon. Marianne continues to tour and record to this day.

Despite the 1960s liberalism and sexual revolution Marianne suffered the judgement of many for her reckless behaviour. She once lamented that the drug bust turned the boys into heroes but she was labelled a 'villain' and a 'bad mother'. It was an image she suffered with for many years, constantly having to prove herself as she was doubted by many who believed her to be nothing more than 'Mick Jagger's Girlfriend'. She was often erroneously labelled as a 'groupie' but her career has been both long and successful.

Marianne was also a fashion icon during the decade, with her mini skirts, bohemian dresses and long blonde hair. She was one of the more popular folk singers of the day and her youthful image helped audiences to accept many of the traditional folk songs she sang. She was also successful in bridging the gap between folk and pop.

Marianne was a young woman when she was thrown into the heady world of Swinging London. When the 1960s came to an end she was only 23 but had many tragic and euphoric experiences behind her. Marianne should not only be defined by her relationships with the Stones but should be celebrated for her wonderful contributions to the world of music and her strength throughout an often difficult life.

“All these half-truths strung together created a very misleading image. That press release…projected an eerie fusion of haughty aristocrat and folky bohemian child-woman. It was a tantalizing ready-made-fantasy. Unfortunately, it wasn’t me”