In three handwritten notes, the late photographer writes about her budding romance with Paul.
Her marriage to Paul McCartney was one of pop’s great love stories for almost 30 years. Now, previously unpublished letters written by Linda Eastman in the 1960s reveal her excitement about dating the Beatles star and being commissioned to photograph “groovy” bands of the day.
In June 1967, weeks after she had begun dating McCartney, Linda photocopied an American gossip column that had a sentence about her. She sent it to a friend with the passage underlined. It reads: “They say Beatle Paul McCartney’s latest favourite femme is Linda Eastman, a Yankee Doodle fan-mag [photographer].”
Writing on the back, she told her friend: “Thought you’d get a big laugh over the enclosed clipping. Have no idea where they picked up that lie, but it just shows how truthful newspapers are.”
The friend was Miki Antony, who realised that gossip columnist Walter Winchell had got his facts absolutely right. “My reaction was a chuckle as I did know it was true,” Antony told the Observer. “She stayed with me when she first came to London … [She said] ‘Guess who I dated last night? … It was Paul McCartney, and we had this lovely evening.’ She said Paul really liked white rabbits, and the next day she … bought a white rabbit and sent it to him. That night, she told me, he rang her up and said, ‘Thank you so much for the white rabbit, would you like to come out for dinner again?’ That’s how I knew they’d started dating. The rest is history.”
McCartney has spoken in the past of an “instant attraction” when he first met Linda at the Bag O’ Nails nightclub in London’s Soho in May 1967. They married in 1969 and he “cried for a year” after her death from cancer in 1998, aged just 56.
Antony, who went on to make several hit records as a singer, writer, and record producer, discovered her three letters while moving house. He is now selling them through Chiswick Auctions in London, which will include them in its Autographs sale on 29 January.
Professor Kenneth Womack, told the Observer: “These letters shed intriguing light on her progress in 1967 from independent rock photographer to the arm of the Beatles’s most eligible bachelor. Especially of interest is her refutation of Walter Winchell’s scoop about her budding romance with Paul McCartney, which turned out to be spot on.”
Antony had befriended Linda while she was studying at the University of Arizona and when, in 1965, he visited as a Rada student. He said: “She was a good friend for a year and a half. But then, of course, she went off into the Beatles world and that was it … She was lovely.”
In one letter, she wrote: “I quit my job at Town & Country magazine to become a freelance photographer – I’m doing very well – sell mainly to teen magazines ’cause most of my subjects are rock’n’roll groups – it’s so groovy – have photographed many English groups … The Stones were my favourite, went out with Mick Jagger, he’s really a terrific person, much to my surprise.”
In another passage, she was excited about the prospect of photographing various shows: “Listen to the lineup: Wilson Pickett, the Miracles, Mitch Ryder, the Who, Ike & Tina Turner … ”
A major exhibition of Linda’s photographs, co-curated by McCartney, is currently at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow.