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Pattie Boyd: George Harrison's Wife And Clapton's 'Layla,' Then And Now

Music | March 17, 2021

Left: Beatle George Harrison and Patti Boyd on their wedding day, January 20, 1966. Right: 'La Fille au Bouquet,' a painting by Frandsen de Schomberg that reminded Eric Clapton of Boyd. Sources: Photo by Aubrey Hart/Evening Standard/Getty Images; Wikimedi

You know Pattie Boyd from Eric Clapton’s lyrics “Layla, you got me on my knees,” and George Harrison’s “Something in the way she moves.” She was an inspiration to both artists; they were madly in love with her, which was a problem since she was already married to Harrison. Boyd is known for her role in classic rock's most famous love triangle, but she was also prominent, in London, at least, as a fashion model. (Rock stars with models -- go figure, right?) Pattie Boys (and her sister Jenny) embodied the sought-after Swinging London look, with a place alongside Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy as an icon of the mod scene.

You Could Get Your Hair Washed By Pattie Boyd

Source: Pinterest

Boyd was born on March 17th, 1944 in Taunton, Somerset, England, and moved to London after graduating school in 1961. While working as a shampoo girl at Elizabeth Arden Salon, a magazine staffer from the publication Honey came in and encouraged her to give modeling a try because she had the right look. Boyd was convinced, and began modeling for Honey in 1962, which led her to working with other top fashion magazines including Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Elle. In short order she went from appearing within the magazines to gracing the covers of these top publications as well. Boyd’s fashion sense, consisting of bright colors and miniskirts, was part of a new ‘60s style that rebelled against the modest, long dresses of the '50s. Along with Boyd’s influence, a youthful and playful style was becoming the norm in London.  

Pattie Boyd Was The Ultimate Beatles’ Girl

Source: Pinterest

Director Richard Lester began using Boyd for some television commercials in 1964 and was very impressed by her natural on-screen charisma and youthful appearance. He then cast her as the cute schoolgirl in The Beatles' first and biggest hit film, A Hard Day’s Night. George Harrison immediately fell in love with her during filming and asked her out on a date by saying, “Will you marry me? Well, if you won’t marry me, will you have dinner with me tonight?” Boyd declined at first, as she was dating photographer Eric Swayne at the time, but was extremely flattered as she found him, “incredibly good-looking, but rather shy.” A few days later, she broke up with Swayne and accepted Harrison’s date proposal. Harrison and Boyd began a legendary relationship and were seen as the “it couple” everyone wanted to be like. 

 Due to her involvement with The Beatles, the biggest band in the world, Boyd’s popularity soared even higher and she landed even greater feats in modeling. Boyd was found on the covers of the top magazines everywhere and starred in numerous television commercials. Boyd was considered “by far the most glamorous” of all The Beatles’ wives and girlfriends, and The Beatles were the biggest heartthrobs in the world -- so many young girls all over the globe strove to emulate Boyd's mod look. Pattie and her sister Jenny Boyd even opened their own clothing boutique called Juniper in London selling artwork and antiques.

If the name of the clothing store rings a ball, that's because it's the title of a great song by Donovan -- yes, "Jennifer Juniper" was written about Pattie Boyd's sister Jenny.

Pattie Boyd Inspired The Beatles’ Interest In Meditation

Source: Pinterest

Boyd moved into Harrison’s Esher, Surrey house in July 1964, and he proposed on Christmas 1965. They married on January 21, 1966 with Paul McCartney as Harrison’s best man. Harrison was madly in love with Boyd and a majority of the songs he contributed to The Beatles were about her, including "Something," "If I Needed Someone," and "I Need You."  Boyd was not only influential on young girls throughout the world and for the songs Harrison wrote, but she also inspired The Beatles’ philosophies. It was Boyd who introduced the boys to meditation, which Harrison and John Lennon practically became obsessed with. This interest in meditation led to their six-week trip to India where Harrison learned how to play the sitar from the Indian classical master Ravi Shankar. In 1968, Pattie and Jenny Boyd joined The Beatles on their famous visit to their meditation mentor Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh, India. 

Not The Love Story We Thought It Was

Source: Pinterest

When Boyd and Harrison returned from India, unfortunate tension began turning the couple apart from each other. The Beatles’ beloved manager Brian Epstein unexpectedly died which took a toll on the band members emotionally and also financially, as the band now had to take over the business side of the music. Stress overcame Harrison along with the entire band, and The Beatles broke up a year later. Harrison focused all of his energy at this point in the Hare Krishna movement, and completely neglected his wife. When Boyd returned to modeling in the early ‘70s, she began a short affair with Faces (and future Rolling Stones) guitarist Ronnie Wood, while Harrison cheated with Ringo Starr’s wife Maureen. The pair called it quits and divorced in 1974.

From One Rockstar To The Next

Source: Yahoo Life

While still with Harrison, Pattie received an anonymous letter simply signed “E” of an admirer professing his deep love and infatuation of her, and later found out “E” was guitarist Eric Clapton, one of Harrison’s closest friends. Boyd was both shocked and flattered at the same time, but initially stayed true to her marriage and declined Clapton’s advances. Boyd’s rejection sent Clapton into a deep depression and heroin addiction, but after years of cleaning up he pursued Boyd once again, even writing the Derek And The Dominos smash hit "Layla" about his unrequited love. He finally wooed her successfully (perhaps the songs "Wonderful Tonight" and "Bell Bottom Blues" also helped) and the two married in 1979. However, the grand love story didn’t last for too long as Clapton fell back into a drug and alcohol addiction and became involved in multiple affairs, including with Italian model Lory Del Santo, and the couple divorced in 1989.

Boyd Married A Regular Guy This Time

Source: Hello! Magazine

After her split from Clapton, Boyd strayed away from rockstars and lived a simpler life. She began a much more successful relationship with property developer Rod Weston in 1991, and after decades together they finally wed on April 29, 2015 and are still happily together this day. Boyd developed a caring heart for charity and also in 1991 she co-founded SHARP (Self Help Addiction Recovery Program) with Ringo’s second wife Barbara Bach. Throughout her days spent in rock ‘n’ roll, Boyd was passionate about photography and was always capturing beautiful moments of her partners. Her photographs of Harrison and Clapton are often featured in exhibitions throughout the world. Boyd revealed her world as a muse in the autobiography she released in 2007 called Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, And Me.  

Tags: Eric Clapton | George Harrison | Pattie Boyd

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Emily Morenz

Author

Despite her younger age, Emily Morenz (Emo) is a serious 1960s/1970s enthusiast who is pretty much the Austin Powers of this decade. Through her all-vintage wardrobe, obsession with old time rock 'n' roll, and her mid century bedroom and 1,200+ vinyl collection you might think she just stepped out of a time machine. Emo plays the rare gems of the ‘60s and ‘70s on her radio show on OC’s 101.5 KOCI and teaches rock ‘n’ roll history on her podcast “The Rock & Roll Sweetheart.” When there's not a pandemic, she's rockin’ out with all the middle aged-men at every single classic rock concert happening around the town, and she will battle her away to front row and dance hard. Paul McCartney even once brought her up on stage to dance...while she was in a walrus costume. You also might find Emo surfing waves, skateboarding through a neighborhood, groovin' '60s gogo style, and pretending like she can play bass. And she's obsessed with peanut butter and corgis.