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This autumn Linda turns author once again with the publication of a stunning selection of her 1960's rock photographs.
Mark Lewisohn scans the proofs
Content not only with commandeering the prime slice of the vegetarian cookbook market, Linda is about to dip into her extensive photo archive and pull out a plum choice of shots from what a certain major musician has announced as "a time they called the Sixties".
Subtitled Portrait Of An Era, the book is precisely that - a compendium of stunning shots from a photographer who, while admitting to being professionally untrained, clearly has a keen eye for just the right moment and an ability to frequently find herself in the right place at the right time.
To put it another way, and this is something all Club Sandwich regulars will readily agree with, this self-professed limited knowledge of the technical side of photography has not in the least inhibited Linda from producing much great work. In book form, Linda McCartney - Sixties is the fourth volume to so clearly display this. Linda's Pictures was the first, published back in 1976, Photographs came next (1982) and Sun Prints (1988) was the most recent.
But while one would in no way denigrate those earlier books, Sixties is perhaps the icing on the cake: a sumptuous coffee-table production of remarkable high quality, a book one will want to reach out for again and again...though perhaps only with clean hands.
Surprisingly, perhaps, it was the Rolling Stones who, in Linda's own words, "set the course" of her life. The time was June 1966 and Linda - working in New York at the magazine Town & Country - managed to gain exclusive photographic access to the band as they took to the Hudson River for a floating press reception. The resulting pictures were outstanding - several shots appear in Sixties - and Linda was on her way.
The new book is divided into three sections, East Coast, West Coast and London, with scores of top rock acts featured, most accompanied by insightful, interesting and, above all, caring reminiscences from the photographer herself. On the East Coast side of things, from the period when Linda was based in New York and taking pictures of not only the local but visiting acts, the book spotlights the Stones, the Doors, the Who, Cream, Simon and Garfunkel, BB King, Buffalo Springfield, Todd Rundgren, the Animals, the Young Rascals, the Mamas and Papas, Jackson Browne, Blue Cheer, the Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, the Yardbirds, Bloomfield/Quicksilver, Otis Redding and Tim Buckley.
And along the way, as one turns page after page of stunning shots, it's equally fascinating to read the remarks. Linda's perception of Jim Morrison's shyness and frailties, and how he slowly succumbed to both the public's misconception of his personality and determination to place him on a pedestal, is particularly sad. With Jimi Hendrix the empathy is equally and refreshingly real; while the pictures show rhythm and blues the text reveals soul.
The West Coast section is full of big names too -Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company, Country Joe and the Fish, the Association, Ray Charles, the Grateful Dead (seen lounging on steps of their house in the epicentre of Haight-Ashbury), Jefferson Airplane and Aretha Franklin - and, again, some equally telling text accompanies.
Linda first came to England in May 1967, wanting to photograph two acts -Traffic and the Beatles. She succeeded, and also managed to squeeze in sessions with the Move, the Kinks and Jimi Hendrix on the way. Not bad for a few days' work in a foreign country!
Her first session with the Beatles -which came about through impressing Brian Epstein with her portfolio, particularly prints of Keith Moon and Brian Jones - led to the taking of a magnificent group portrait, snapped at the exclusive press launch for Sgt Pepper, with John and Paul shaking hands, deliriously happy with life. Linda later sold such a colour print for $100 and thought she'd hit the big time — previously, showing delightful naivety, she had given them away.
An excellent section of Beatles photographs - many previously unpublished -occupies the last third of the book. Linda arrived in England a second time, and to stay, late in September 1968, during the latter stages of the 'White Album' recording sessions. She was now Paul's partner and, although never pushy, her access to the group meant that she was able to take in-studio shots of them when very few others could gain access. She immediately captured the spirit of the Beatles at work, busy creating with George Martin another inspiring collection of songs.
Similarly, however, in 1969, her camera picked up the frostier atmosphere enveloping them, although two happy photos of John and Paul sitting and working together speak volumes for the deep camaraderie which always existed between them.
The end of the Beatles and the end of the 1960s hammered home the fact that those few idealistic, exciting years were suddenly over. But Paul and Linda had each other, children were arriving on the scene and Linda still carried her camera. The final pictures in Sixties show the young McCartney family on their own, in London, in Liverpool, in Devon and Cornwall, in fields, in Scotland, getting back to nature, a family laying down roots.
Besides all this, the new book has photos of a real eclectic bunch: from Tiny Tim to Arlo Guthrie via Judy Collins, Nico, Twiggy, the Hollies and Mickie Most. A certain Paul McCartney has written a lovely introduction and David Bailey the foreword.
"I'm into Life" states the photographer at the end - Sixties proves that she not only lives it, she's captured it too.
♦ Linda McCartney - Sixties will be published in September - by Little, Brown in the USA and by Octopus in the UK. Available from all sensible bookstores.