When Linda McCartney married Paul, she also married his fame and the resentment of thousands of weepy, love sick girls. Linda was again in the unwanted spotlight during the Wings years, and this time the media had even more fodder for the fire—she was an amateur singer and musician, and perhaps hardly even that. It’s only in recent years that she has been acknowledged for being an excellent photographer, artist, animal rights activist, businesswoman and cook, all in her own right.
Linda Eastman was born on September 24, 1941 to an upper middle class family, and raised in Scarsdale, New York. Oddly enough, Yoko Ono also lived in Scarsdale, sometime after she had first moved to New York, but only for a short time.
Linda’s father was an entertainment lawyer. Linda seemed to have a happy enough childhood; high school classmates remember her as a spirited, smiley girl. Her mother died in a plane crash when she was nineteen, and she retreated to Vermont, then Arizona for a college education.
At the University of Arizona she majored in art history and picked up a predilection for photography. While in Arizona she also picked up a husband, the father of her daughter Heather. Linda’s first rushed marriage is often described as something Linda entered into under the influence of grief, after her mother died.
After college she moved back to New York, and got a job as a receptionist at Town and Country magazine. Linda’s big photography break was a chance opportunity to photograph the Rolling Stones on a yacht. She grabbed her camera, snapped her pictures and suddenly her pictures were in high demand.
Linda was naturally a good photographer. She watched people with eager eyes, and took the photo when it was the right moment. Her pictures created a scene or established a character, and were often considered beautiful, sometimes moody and gritty.
Linda’s photography skills made her a member of the music scene. She captured The Doors, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, and eventually the Beatles. She became a Rolling Stone magazine photographer.
Linda is said to have had many amorous relationships with the musicians she photographed. Most notorious, was her relationship with Jimi Hendrix. In the first interview Paul gave after Linda had passed away, he was asked about his past rendezvous in relation to Linda’s rendezvous. Paul thought that Linda and him had about the same experience, though is doubtful that Linda could have ever caught up to Paul.
She met Paul for the first time in England at a music club called The Bag O’ Nails. Paul noticed her almost immediately. That same year she took the famous Sergeant Pepper pictures, the ones with Paul and John shaking hands in an overly exaggerated way. The first picture of Paul and Linda together was snapped during this photo shoot.
A "dirty weekend," as Linda referred to it, was next, and also included discussions of books, philosophies, passions. It wasn’t long before Paul was completely smitten. He asked Linda and Heather to live with him in London, and Linda accepted. Sometime during their courtship Linda told a friend that she wasn’t quite sure about Paul, she thought she didn’t really have a chance at a serious relationship with such a playboy and celebrity. But Paul always knew Linda was special—she always returned to his thoughts.
In 1969, Paul and Linda married and George and Patti Boyd were arrested for possession of marijuana the same day. John and Yoko married within two weeks of Paul and Linda.
During the infamous Beatles money disputes, Paul wanted Linda’s father to handle their money. The other three Beatles were decidedly against involving family members, and any other people close to them. It is also rumored that the rest of the Beatles didn’t necessarily trust Linda and her intentions. Same went for Yoko when she first appeared on the scene (and oftentimes after too).
When Paul and Linda married, Linda was about four or five months pregnant with their first daughter Mary. Mary was born around the time of the Beatles breakup, and Paul has said that was the first time he ever saw magic.
When Paul’s first solo album came out, he decided that he would be the first to announce the breakup. Almost half of this album is about, or dedicated to, Linda ("La La La, La La La, the Lovely Linda).
Distraught and stricken over the breakup, Paul hid away with Linda at his remote farm in Scotland for a while. Their second daughter Stella was born within two years of Mary, and along with her birth, and a hard labor for Linda, came Wings. Paul wanted to be with Linda and the family, and Linda wanted to be with Paul and the family, so Linda joined the band. Her voice and musical talents were derided, but she did eventually improve on the piano. Her voice was inconsistent, but sweet, and sometimes even nearly beautiful.
Amidst all this, Linda and Paul decided to become vegetarians. One day, they looked out the window at the lambs they were raising, and the lamb on their plates, and decided to give up meat.
Linda and Paul became big animal rights activists. Linda also enjoyed cooking, and she wanted to share her food with others, so she wrote a cook book and started a frozen food line. She made millions, and Paul often joked that her frozen food line was taking in more money than the Beatles ever did.
Wings had several different members, and lasted until about 1980, when Paul was busted for marijuana in Japan. His ten day stay in the prison would be the longest that Paul and Linda had ever been, and ever was, separated. Paul is often quoted as saying that in their 29 year marriage, they were only separated one night—excluding the prison incident. Of course, this was not the only time that Linda and Paul had been caught in possession of marijuana.
In the early ‘70s the McCartney’s earned an Academy Award nomination for the theme of the James Bond Film, "Live and Let Die." In the late ‘70s they had their last child, a boy named James.
From there, Linda continued to have hearty meals and lots of family time. And she always took pictures. Over the years she acquired many pictures, which eventually turned into a retrospective ‘60s photo book.
In December of 1995, Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 1996 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from PETA for her animal-rights work.
By 1997, she was in remission, but it wasn’t long before the cancer came back, and headed towards her liver. She died on April 19, 1998 in her Arizona home, with her family by her side.
Paul pledged to carry on with his late wife’s animal rights and vegetarian campaigns. He has stuck to his word, though he is now a bit more vocal about land mines because this is his second’s wife passion.
Today people remember Linda as a loving person, photographer, mother and wife. Sometimes, they even drop and ignore her last name.
In December 1996, Paul and Linda McCartney received a Lifetime Achievement Award from PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In his acceptance speech, Paul said, "Even though compassion may be an old idea, it's nice to think that nowadays more and more people are looking for a kinder way of living." You can learn more about PETA by clicking on their logo.
In 1966 Linda Eastman, a secretary at a society magazine based in Manhattan, intercepted an invitation to join a boat party for the Rolling Stones. Figuring that no one else at Town and Country wanted to mingle with a bunch of wild long hairs, she took her camera to a yacht moored in the Hudson River. Her good fortune continued when she became the only photographer allowed on board.
Eastman's Rolling Stones scoop led to a gig as Rolling Stone magazine's first staff photographer. Impressed by her portrait of Brian Jones, the Stones' enigmatic, tragic genius, Beatles manager Brian Epstein invited her to a 1967 press party for the album ''Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.'' There Eastman met Paul McCartney for the first time, launching a romance that led to marriage, children, a band called Wings, campaigns for animal rights and vegetarianism and a career as a photographer of cultural movers and earthquakers.
Beatles, Stones and Doors star in ''Linda McCartney's Sixties : Portrait of an Era ,'' an exhibition of 51 photos that will run from May 29 to Aug. 21 at the Allentown Art Museum. Allentown is the first Pennsylvania site for the only McCartney retrospective to tour museums in her native U.S. since she died in 1998.
Organized by the Estate of Linda McCartney with the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Conn., the exhibit chronicles a period of communal charisma. McCartney photographed the Who in quirky clothes and poses behind the Fillmore East, the funky, fabled Manhattan hall where she served as house photographer. She shot the Youngbloods in trees and the Grateful Dead as a playful tribe on the stoop of a Victorian house they shared in Haight Ashbury.
McCartney's photographic role models were Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange, who specialized in portraits that looked formal but felt informal. She relaxed her subjects by shooting naturally, without flash, and spontaneously. This casual attitude enabled her to infiltrate inner circles; indeed, she considered herself ''a band member whose chosen instrument was the camera.''
Armed with intimacy, McCartney witnessed the catastrophe of success. She captured Janis Joplin as a hurricane onstage, a shy victim offstage. One of her images of the Beatles, taken during the making of their final album, ''Abbey Road,'' illustrates the growing gulf between a onetime band of brothers. It's titled ''Four Strangers.''
The show contains one of McCartney's most endearing, enduring shots of her husband, Paul, holding their first child, Mary, inside his jacket. Non-rockers include soul diva Aretha Franklin; among the non-musicians is actor Michael J. Pollard, a goofy sidekick in the film ''Bonnie and Clyde.'' Three platinum prints demonstrate McCartney's passion for quieter scenes outside of the '60s. ''Stallion and Standing Stone'' hung in her last gallery exhibition, which opened shortly after her death from cancer at age 56.
McCartney was highly honored during her lifetime. In 1987 Women in Photography named her its top U.S. representative. In 1995 Bulfinch Press published ''Linda McCartney's Sixties: Portrait of an Era,'' one of five books of her photography. The Victoria & Albert Museum exhibited her images of popular culture, and the National Portrait Gallery in London acquired her pictures of Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
''Linda McCartney's Sixties'' bookends last year's Allentown Art Museum exhibit of Allen Ginsberg's photos of William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady and other Beats, those literary rock 'n' rollers. David Brigham, the museum's executive director, says it was chosen for its broad appeal. He calls it a sort of sequel to the museum's recent display of inventive, historic clothes and jewelry designed by Mary McFadden, who began dressing fashionable people around the time McCartney began photographing fashionable people.
More than 350,000 have viewed the McCartney exhibit since it opened in March 1999. The next year Brigham shared the show's success as a director/curator at the Worcester (Mass.) Art Museum.
''Linda McCartney's generation alone doesn't own this music and these images,'' says Brigham. ''Every subsequent generation claims this work as their own. What makes it so compelling is that it's all about youth culture.''
Linda McCartney, the late wife of Beatles singer Paul McCartney, was raised in Scarsdale, N.Y. as the daughter of Louise Lindner and prominent entertainment lawyer Lee Eastman. Her family was not open about their religious affiliation, although her grandfather, Max Joseph Lindner, owner of a famous women's clothing shop in Cleveland, was active in the city's Reform temple.
Linda attended Scarsdale High School and afterwards became a celebrity photographer, and snapped shots of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. During her photographing of the Beatles in 1967 she became romantically involved with Paul McCartney, and they married in 1969.
Linda was a staunch vegetarian and contributed to the popularity of vegetarianism in Britain, including her own food products in the 1990s.
When the Beatles split up, she started a singing career in Paul's new band, Wings, but she is better known for her career as a photographer.
She and Paul McCartney had three children: Mary, Stella and James. Another daughter Heather is from a previous marriage.
Linda and Paul McCartney
On September 24, 1941, Linda Louise Eastman was born. Her parents were Lee Eastman, who was an attorney, and Louise Eastman. Linda was raised in New York at Murray Hill. The first school she attended was Fox Meadow School. The High School which she attended was Scarsdale High School; in 1959, she graduated. Not long after, she went to the Sarah Lawrence School in Bronxville, New York. Yoko Ono was also a student there at a previous time.
"All my teen years were spent with an ear to the radio," Linda said.
She oftentimes attended shows at the Paramount Theatre in Brooklyn. 'They'd have twenty acts on, twenty-four hours a day. Alan Freed was the MC, but sometimes they'd get Fabian or Bobby Darin to MC. I remember seeing Chuck Berry sing "School Days" for the first time,' she said.
She eventually traveled to Arizona, where she attended the University of Arizona in Tucson, which, at the Tucson Art Centre, she took a small course in photography. She said, “Arizona opened up my eyes to the wonder of light and color.”
During the time that Linda was attending the University, her mother was killed in a plane crash. She was so badly affected and grieved by her mother’s death, that she sought solace and comfort in the arms of a man named Melvin, who was a geophysicist student. She married him, and soon, a little girl named Heather was born to them. However, the marriage between Melvin and Linda was not to last long. Linda said, "When he [Melvin] graduated, he wanted to go to Africa. I said, 'Look, if I don't get on with you here, I'm not going to Africa with you. I won't get on with you there."'
In reference of her marriage to Melvin, Linda stated, "My mother died in a plane crash, and I got married. It was a mistake." Linda and Mel's divorce was reported to have been agreeable.
Linda moved back to New York after her divorce from Melvin, and soon became a receptionist for Town and Country magazine. However, her successful career in photography began one day when she spotted the Rolling Stones on a yacht on the Hudson River. She soon became an avid and well-known photographer, as a result of her unique photographs of the popular bands.
During her photography career, she dated rock stars such as Jimi Hendrix, Steve Winwood, Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison, Neil Young, and Eric Burdon. She had also dated Warren Beatty. Soon she was to meet the love of her life, Paul McCartney.
Linda eventually became a photographer at the popular rock venue, the Fillmore East, and, shortly after, she photographed other admired musicians such as The Beatles, The Doors, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Otis Redding, Simon and Garfunkel, and The Beach Boys.
In Austria, in 1965, during the filming of Help! she first photographed the Beatles. However, she did not meet them until 1967, in London, during the time when she was photographing the bands Traffic and the Animals. One evening while she was in London, Chas Chandler, ex bass player of the animals, took her to a club called Bag O’ Nails, where she was first introduced to Paul McCartney.
Later on, she met Paul again, when he arrived in New York for press conferences, and to promote Apple. During one of the press conferences, Linda gave Paul her phone number, and some days later, he contacted her and they arranged to meet at Nat Weiss’s flat.
Paul eventually returned once again to London, though, a month later, he went to Los Angeles, where he had another opportunity to meet up with Linda. During this time, they spent a week together. After their time spent together, Linda went back to New York for a while, then, months later, was invited by Paul to London.
Linda recalled, "I came over and we lived together for a while, neither of us talked about marriage, we just loved each other and lived together. We liked each other a lot, so being conventional people, one day I thought: okay, let's get married, we love each other, let's make it definite."
On March 12, 1969, at 9:45 am, Paul married Linda. Mike McCartney, Paul's brother, was supposed to be the best man for their wedding, however, he was an hour late as a result of a train delay from Liverpool. When he arrived, he was saddened by his late arrival and said, "Forgive me, it wasn't my fault. Have you been done?" Mal Evans and Peter Brown were witnesses to the wedding, and little Heather was bridesmaid.
However, none of the Beatles were in attendance for the wedding, as the group was in the midst of separation.
The news of Paul's and Linda's marriage quickly spread throughout the countryside, and on the morning of their wedding, the media and several fans gathered outside Paul's Cavendish Avenue house.
The wedding reception was held at the Ritz hotel, Piccadilly. That same evening, Paul went back to the studios to complete the production of the Jackie Lomax single.
In 1970, soon after the split up of the Beatles, Paul’s debut Album “McCartney” of which the song “Lovely Linda” was the initial track, was released. John Lennon and George Harrison also released solo albums within a year.
Family life was of great importance to Linda and Paul, and during their marriage, they raised four children: Mary who was born in 1969, Stella, who was born in 1971, James Louis, who was born in 1977, and Heather. The children were raised on a farm on Scotland and rural houses in remote settings in Southern England, as the McCartneys preferred a quiet, peaceful, low key setting for their children.
Paul taught Linda to play synthesizer, percussion, and the keyboards, and they eventually released the album “Ram.” Soon, Paul formed a new band called “Wings,” of which his wife was a member, a co-songwriter, and player; Denny Laine was guitarist. The band released a best selling single “Mull of Kin Tyre,” and a popular album “Band on the Run.”
In addition to the song "Lovely Linda," Paul also wrote the song "Maybe I'm Amazed" for her. Also, Paul and Linda wrote the theme “Live and Let Die” for the James Bond film, and they were nominated for a best-song Academy award.
During one of their tours, in 1989-1990, they played for three million people, in 102 shows throughout the world, in thirteen countries. Linda continued to tour with Paul, and in 1997, for Paul’s Grammy-nominated album “Flaming Pie,” she sang the backup vocals.
“Wide Prairie,” produced by Paul McCartney, was Linda’s first solo album. She also wrote the songs on the album, and played a variety of keyboards, and Paul sang back-up vocals, played some instruments, and their son James played lead guitar.
In addition to music, Linda also wrote books, and appeared in the music video “Say Say Say,” which became a number one video in 1983. She also appeared on a British television series entitled “Bread.” “Give my Regards to Broad Street,” a 20th Century Fox film, which Paul McCartney produced, and starred, also gave Linda the opportunity to once again appear in a film.
Exhibitions of Linda’s photography are displayed in numerous galleries throughout the world, and her work is featured in several books, including “Sunprints,” “Roadworks,” and “Sixties.”
Linda’s idea of ready-made vegetarian meals was also a success; in 1991, the meals were on the shelves at popular supermarkets, and as many as five million of the popular meals had been purchased within that same year. To this day, her vegetarian meals are well-loved in the UK, and are displayed on the menu at London’s Hard Rock Cafe.
A book entitled “Linda McCartney's Home Cooking,” was published in 1989, and it became the best-selling vegetarian cookbook in the UK, as well as a best seller in the United States. Other books which were soon published included “Linda McCartney On Tour” and “Linda's Kitchen.”
Linda was also involved in campaigns for animals rights, for animals such as the endangered Lynx, and she was involved in an anti-fur lobby in the UK. She also supported such organizations as “The People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals.”
In addition, she worked for such programs as “Friends Of The Earth” and “The Council For The Protection of Rural England,” in order to help protect the world’s environment.
In 1995, it was announced that Linda McCartney had breast cancer. In an interview, in reference to his wife’s brave fight against cancer, Paul stated that his wife was "the most positive person on earth.” When he was asked about the lasting of their marriage, he said, "I guess it's because we just adore each other."
Paul was knighted in 1997, and Linda became Lady Linda McCartney.
Linda continued to undergo treatments, and in 1998, in spite of those treatments that she had undergone for the cancer, it had spread to her liver, and she died at the family ranch in Tucson, Arizona, on April 17th, 1998. Paul and the children were present at her side during her death.
"The blessing was that the end came quickly and she didn't suffer," Paul said.
Later, Paul McCartney stated, "As a mother, she was the best. We always said that all we wanted for the kids was that they would grow up to have good hearts, and they have."