For round 2 of Monday Muses I thought I would go with another somewhat unsung hero of the 1960s and 70s, Linda McCartney.
The biggest problem facing muses is that they are, more often than not, overshadowed by the people they inspire. Particularly true when they are in a couple (just take a look at Linda's current Wikipedia photo for a blatant example of this...wowza). Having quite literally been a Beatles fan from birth, when I was younger I only vaguely knew of Linda McCartney as “Paul’s vegetarian wife”. Now I am simply fascinated by the life she lead - including her life before getting together with Paul. I find it very interesting to think they didn’t even start dating until 1968, in essence, the tail-end of the Beatles.
Linda, then known as Linda Eastman, first made a name for herself as music photographer and allegedly as a bit of a “groupie”. Whatever the truth, in all honesty, that lore makes her far more interesting. Over the years she photographed people like: Bob Dylan, Grace Slick, Janis Joplin, Simon and Garfunkel, the Doors, the Who, the Stones. She photographed Eric Clapton for Rolling Stone magazine, and became the first woman to have her work featured on the front cover. She is a very underrated photographer...
She had one child from her first marriage (which ended shortly after it started) yet she managed to keep her career going and be a single mum. Then she met Paul, of course, and they started a family and began making music (and embarking on a series of adventurous hair cuts) together.
Linda took a lot of criticism for her musical endeavors but some of the work she and Paul did is my favorite music (see: all of 'RAM'). I don't think she ever put on airs about being a serious / trained musician or vocalist and I've seen several self-deprecating quotes to prove my point. Last year one of my dear friends discovered that I had never heard of Linda McCartney's solo album, Wild Prairie and gave me a copy post haste. While it was never meant to be officially released it's such a fun little record. It's sounds like someone having a ridiculously great time making music for themselves.
She has always been a hero to me for her dedication to animal welfare and as a key player in bringing vegetarianism to the mainstream and to people's refrigerators. She is also responsible for co-raising some pretty incredible children not the least of which is Miss Stella McCartney. Her daughter Mary is also a successful photographer.
I think the saddest part about her legacy is, of course, that it ended so tragically early. Linda passed away in 1998 after battling breast cancer at only 56 but she has left us with a hell of a lot of great music and hundreds of beautiful photos.