An Eye for the Moment Linda McCartney's Revealing Photos Capture Paul, the Rolling Stones and Other '60S Rock Stars on the Brink of Greatness

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Byline: Laura Stewart Daily Herald Staff Writer

"These were the days when Jimi Hendrix would walk up to see me at my apartment and when Jim Morrison and I would go down to Chinatown to eat. I can remember going out to buy peanut butter with Janis Joplin for a late-night feast. ... People who became icons were on the brink of their careers, wondering whether anybody was ever going to notice them."

- Linda McCartney, from the 1992 book "Linda McCartney's Sixties: Portrait of an Era"

Before she ever met Paul, Linda had her Pentax.

Before she ever became Paul McCartney's "Lovely Linda," before she ever played a keyboard in Wings, and long before she ever published one of her vegetarian cookbooks, Linda McCartney was Linda Eastman, a single mother, working as a freelance photographer in New York City in the 1960s.

Eastman shared a tiny one-bedroom apartment with her daughter, Heather.

She shopped for furniture at the Salvation Army.

And she just happened to snap photographs of many of the musical icons of the 1960s.

There, forever sealed on film, is Janis Joplin, looking weathered and tense, puffing on a cigarette; a young Bob Dylan scratching his cheek; Mama Cass Elliott and John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas sitting together at a hotel table - Phillips playing his guitar and Elliott eating oysters.

"Linda McCartney's Sixties: Portrait of an Era" photo exhibition opens April 17 and runs through July 25 at the Lake County Discovery Museum - the only site in the Chicago area chosen by the Estate of Linda McCartney to host the exhibit.

The opening day will be the sixth anniversary of McCartney's death - she lost her battle with breast cancer on April 17, 1998.

The museum's natural setting definitely played a role in its selection to host the exhibit, said Gabriele Abbott, North American tour coordinator of the exhibit for the Estate of Linda McCartney.

Tucked away in the Lakewood Forest Preserves, the museum is a quiet sanctuary, surrounded by rolling hills, a large pond and some waddling geese padding through the tall grasses.

It would have made McCartney, known for her love of animals and nature, quite pleased, Abbott said.

"I'm into nature and the seasons and blossoms and snowflakes ..."

"They (McCartney's family) like those kind of venues, in keeping with what Linda would have liked," Abbott said.

The museum also has a strong arts and science program for youth, another factor the McCartney estate favors, Abbott said.

A traveling exhibit, "Linda McCartney's Sixties: Portrait of an Era" opened in March 1999 and has since traveled to 25 venues in the United States and Canada, breaking attendance records at every stop, Abbott said.

"It's a great honor to have the exhibit," said Diana Dretske, collections coordinator and curator of the McCartney exhibit at the Lake County Discovery Museum. "It's going to connect with a lot of people."

Fifty photographs will be featured, many of them enlarged to poster size.

"She (McCartney) had a great eye for just the right moment," Dretske said.

"I always relied totally on my instinct. I believed I could feel when there was a good picture."

While preparing for the exhibit, Dretske said she was quite struck by the youthfulness of the subjects in McCartney's photos.

"Look at the Rolling Stones," Dretske said. "Look how very young all these people are."

McCartney's style was simple. Working mainly with black-and- white film, she used only available light to capture her subjects in the most natural setting. …