I spend most of the time with the family. The music and photography are incidental,” says Linda McCartney. Which explains why the 36-year-old wife of ex-Beatle Paul and member of his current group, Wings, stayed in London instead of going to L.A. for the opening of her first one-woman photographic exhibition. (Back home, Wings was having a triumph of its own—its new single Mull of Kintyre, a hymn to a section of Scotland where the McCartneys own an estate, has shot to the top of the British charts.)
Linda’s show at the Jan Baum-lris Silverman Gallery consists of screen prints of rock stars she has known (like Mick Jagger, Grace Slick, Pete Townshend, Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie) plus household shots and still lifes. The signed, limited edition of 150 was priced at $100 to $300 per picture or $1,000 for a portfolio of 14. Yet despite the absence of the photographer (and the availability of most of her oeuvre in the $8.95 Ballantine paperback Linda’s Pictures), the gallery sold six portfolios by phone the first day. Sasha Stallone, wife of Sly, paid $250 for a snap of Paul’s painted toes holding a milk shake. “My husband would never let me paint his toes, so now I’ve got Paul’s,” says Mrs. Rocky.
Linda, daughter of a prominent New York attorney, got into the art as a $65-a-week receptionist at Town & Country. She took her camera along to a Rolling Stones press party and caught a photo of Jagger. Her picture-taking led her to Paul as well, and in 1968, when the Beatles came to open their Apple headquarters in Manhattan, McCartney spotted her at the press conference and they wound up spending the evening together. Later Paul invited her to England, and they’ve never parted. “I don’t feel like we’ve been married long at all,” marvels Linda. “I mean eight years. It feels like two. It’s still all so innocent, you know.”
The main base for the McCartneys is a four-story Victorian house in London’s St. John’s Wood. The backyard is a mud bath and garden, mulched by four dogs and two ponies. Life revolves around family goings-on and Paul’s post-Beatle music making, which Linda, as keyboard contributor and vocalist, shares too. Both of them, Linda confesses, “are terrible at practicing. I’ve tried taking piano lessons, but I can’t do it.” She’s more disciplined at photography, processing her own film in a Soho lab.
“It’s a very real life. I don’t believe in nannies and chauffeurs,” says Linda. There is a part-time housekeeper and a gardener, but at 7 each morning Mum makes breakfast for Mary, 8, Stella, 6, and 4-month-old James. (“He’s on a bottle—I was pretty tired after the cesarean.”) Heather, her 15-year-old daughter by a previous marriage, is mother’s best helper. But Linda shuttles the girls to their schools. Then she and Paul settle down to an English breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, fried tomatoes, toast and tea.
For escape, the McCartneys watch the telly, and at their Scottish vacation retreat grow vegetables and ride their five horses. “We don’t do that much socializing,” says Linda. “With so many kids we have our own social life. I’m constantly thinking lovely domestic thoughts. Very middle-class—that’s the nicest life.”