Musician, photographer, wife of Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney’s wife Linda has died of cancer at the age of 55, a spokesman for the former Beatle said Sunday.

”Since she was diagnosed in late 1995 with breast cancer she had been having treatment which appeared to have worked well,” the statement said. ”But unfortunately in March it was found that it had gone to her liver.”

The McCartneys had been on holiday in Santa Barbara, and the couple had been horseriding just two days before her death, the statement said.

”The blessing was that the end came quickly and she didn’t suffer,” it quoted a spokesman for the family as saying.

Paul McCartney will issue a statement later in the week, the spokesman said. It said their children were with him ”and the family is comforting each other.

”Anyone who knows the family knows how close and loving they are, so this is a devastating blow to all of them and they have asked to be left in peace to grieve in private,” McCartney’s spokesman said.

Paul McCartney asked that instead of flowers, if people wanted to honor Linda they could make a donation to cancer research or animal welfare charities — or simply ”go veggie,” the spokesman said.

Linda McCartney was a lifelong vegetarian who had her own line of vegetarian foods.

Paul McCartney’s publicist, Geoff Baker, also quoted in the statement, said there would be a memorial service ”at some point.”

”The coming days are going to be very difficult for Paul. People may not realize that with the exception of one occasion, Paul and Linda never spent a night apart in the 30 years that they have loved each other,” Baker said.

”Especially because of this, I am making a personal and professional appeal to the press and media to please respect how Paul and the family are feeling and to give them time and space alone,” he said.

McCartney married American socialite photographer Linda Eastman in 1969.

After the break-up of the Beatles, Linda joined McCartney’s new band Wings, as a keyboard player and backing singer.

Their hits included the best-selling album ”Band On The Run.” The group’s single ”Mull of Kintyre,” recorded in 1977, is one of the world’s biggest selling singles.

Linda McCartney had put a brave face on her cancer battle, enduring painful surgery and gruelling chemotherapy since the disease was diagnosed in 1995. She finished the treatment last year.

The McCartneys had three children, Mary, Stella and James, as well as a daughter from Linda’s previous marriage, Heather.

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