Linda Eastman was a music fan who once commented, "all my teen years were spent with an ear to the radio." At times, she skipped school to see artists such as Fabian, Bobby Darin and Chuck Berry.
She became a popular photographer with several rock groups, including the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Grateful Dead, the Doors and the Beatles, whom she first met at Shea Stadium in 1966. She commented, "It was John who interested me at the start. He was my Beatle hero. But when I met him the fascination faded fast, and I found it was Paul I liked."
On Friday, January 13, 1967, Paul's steady girlfriend, red-haired actress Jane Asher,
flew to the United States with the Bristol Old Vic for a four-and-a-half-month tour. Paul was not at Heathrow to see her off.
Even if he’d liked his own company, there was no way he was going to spend all that time alone.
He was going to have his mates round, pick girls up, drink, take drugs, leave his clothes where he
dropped them and the dishes unwashed.
Two pals moved in to keep him company — the artist Dudley Edwards and Prince Stanislas Klossowski de Rola, the playboy son of the French painter Balthus.
Stash — as he was known — had just been charged with possession of cocaine and cannabis, along with his friend, the Rolling Stone Brian Jones.
In St John’s Wood, the three young men entertained what Stash describes as harems of girls, while Beatles fans camped outside, periodically bursting in through the gates ‘sort of like cattle breaking through a fence’.
Then, one night in May 1967, Paul, Dudley and Stash drove over to the Bag o’Nails, one of London’s trendy clubs. It was packed with people, many of whom Paul knew, including Peter Brown who worked for The Beatles.
It was Peter who introduced Paul to an American photographer called Linda Eastman, who was in town shooting pictures of musicians.
As Paul remembers, "The night Linda and I met, I spotted her across a crowded club, and although I would normally have been nervous chatting her up, I realised I had to ... Pushiness worked for me that night!" Linda said this about their meeting: "I was quite shameless really. I was with somebody else [that night] ... and I saw Paul at the other side of the room. He looked so beautiful that I made up my mind I would have to pick him up."
When Dudley came back from the bar, he found Paul and Linda engrossed in conversation. Dudley paired up with the singer Lulu, and Paul asked everybody back to his place.
Half an hour later, Linda found herself inside the home of one of the world’s most eligible bachelors. Memories are hazy about whether she slept with him that night.
Stash and Dudley say it didn’t seem important at the time. ‘You just think, it’s yet another girl, and yet another night,’ says Dudley.
In fact, Paul was powerfully attracted to Lin, as he called her. He liked blondes. He liked the fact
that, as a single mother, she was clearly maternal. And he was pleased that — like Jane — she was from a wealthy background.
A few days after meeting Paul, Linda showed up at the Belgravia home of Beatles manager Brian Epstein for the press launch of their new album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
It was noted
that she made a beeline for Paul,
crouching at his feet by the fireplace and looking up into his face.
That weekend, she tried calling him at home and got Stash on the line instead. He told her Paul was in Liverpool. Unfazed, Linda said she wanted to come over anyway.
So she did — and promptly fell into bed with Stash. It was a bizarre weekend. While
Stash and Linda were rolling around together, Paul phoned to
tell his lodger to move out. So Stash
took Linda to stay with the musician Graham Nash.
And soon their affair was common knowledge in London’s rock community. ‘I was teased extensively by Roger Daltrey and [Jimi] Hendrix and so on, because, you
know, Linda had gone around,’ says Stash, ungallantly.
‘But . . . you’ve got to put these things in context: everybody had very open relationships, and it wasn’t cool to be jealous.’
Yet when Linda flew back to New York shortly afterwards, her conversation was not about Stash, but Paul McCartney. Once again, she
informed Nat Weiss, who was on
the same flight, that she was going to marry the Beatle.
Soon after Linda’s departure, Jane returned from her U.S. tour. She threw an all-weekend party with Paul to celebrate the release of Sgt. Pepper, then hopped on a
plane with him for a break in Scotland, where he’d bought a farm as a holiday home. The romance was very much back on.
As for Jane, she clearly decided to give her lover another chance, trying her best to fit in with Paul’s hippie friends and put up with the drug-taking.
That Christmas, he gave her a diamond ring