Still standing: Pattie Boyd as she is today
When the concert was over, Eric and Alice went back to the horrors of their self-imposed prison at Hurtwood Edge. Pete Townshend of The Who was the only friend who refused to take no for an answer and went to the house so often that eventually Eric had to see him.
Pete persuaded him to perform at another charity concert, this time at Finsbury Park, North London.
The show in 1973, billed as Eric's comeback, was a triumph. I was sitting in the audience with George, Ringo, Elton John, Joe Cocker and Jimmy Page. Eric didn't look well – his addict's diet of junk food and chocolate had made him put on weight.
As I heard the opening wail of Layla, the first number of the evening, then the lyrics, my blood ran cold. He might have been wrecked for the previous three years but he hadn't forgotten how to tear at the heart-strings with his guitar.
All the emotion I had felt for him when he disappeared from my life welled up inside me.
The show reminded Eric there was an alternative to his life as an addict and eventually he agreed to accept treatment. He got off the heroin – and went straight on to alcohol.
He became a regular visitor to Friar Park and professed his love for me with increasing vigour. Letters arrived almost daily in which he pleaded with me to leave George and be with him.
Meanwhile, things between George and me were going from bad to worse. I don't know what his feelings were about Eric when he reappeared in our lives.
We had been so stoned on the night of Robert Stigwood's party that he might have forgotten about the confrontation in the mist, but I don't think so. George never spoke about it but after that night I think he felt he could be as blatant as he liked in his pursuit of other women.
In spring 1973 we were supposed to go on holiday together. The day before we were due to leave, George said he wasn't feeling well and couldn't go. He ended up going to Spain, supposedly to see Salvador Dali, with Ronnie Wood's wife, Krissie.
Ronnie, then bass guitarist with The Faces, and Krissie were friends of ours who often came to stay at Friar Park. I was desperately hurt: another of my friends was sleeping with George.
When I challenged him he denied it.
I went to the Bahamas instead with my sister Paula, who was battling her own heroin addiction. While there we had a call from Ronnie Wood. He was on tour and said he might come to see us for a few days. He didn't seem upset that his wife was with George – he just thought it was funny they had gone to see Dali.
Ronnie is the most adorable man, and maybe at that moment some fun, laughter and a pair of comforting arms were what I needed.
The final straw for George and me was his affair with Ringo's wife, Maureen. She was the last person I would have expected to stab me in the back.
I discovered from some photos that she had been staying in the house with George while I had visited my mother in Devon. He had given her a beautiful necklace, which she wore in front of me.
Then I found them locked in a bedroom at Friar Park. I stood outside banging on the door yelling: 'What are you doing? Maureen's in there, isn't she? I know she is!' George just laughed.
Eventually he opened the door and said: 'Oh, she's just a bit tired so she's lying down.'
I went straight to the top of the house and lowered the flag bearing the om symbol that George had been flying from the roof and hoisted a skull and crossbones instead. That made me feel much better.
Maureen wasn't even prepared to be subtle. She would turn up at Friar Park at midnight and I would say: 'What the hell are you doing here?' 'I've come to listen to George playing in the studio.' 'Well, I'm going to bed.' 'Ah, well, I'm going to the studio.'
The next morning, she'd still be there, and I'd say: 'Have you thought about your children? What are you up to? I don't like it.'
'Tough,' was her response.
Ringo didn't have a clue what was going on until I rang him one day and said: 'Have you ever thought about why your wife doesn't come home at night? It's because she's here!' He flew into a rage.
George continued to pretend that nothing was going on and would leave me feeling as though I was becoming paranoid.
I felt undermined and unloved and George was so terribly difficult to talk to. He had become worse in the last year, maybe because Eric kept coming around and making it obvious that he wanted to see me. George must have sensed we were having an affair but he never said so.
One evening the actor John Hurt was with us. Eric was due to come over too and George decided to have it out with him. John wanted to make himself scarce but George insisted he stay.
John remembers George coming downstairs with two guitars and two small amplifiers, laying them down in the hall, then pacing restlessly until Eric arrived – full of brandy, as usual.
As Eric walked through the door George handed him a guitar and amp – as an 18th Century gentleman might have handed his rival a sword – and for two hours, without a word, they duelled. The air was electric and the music exciting.
At the end, nothing was said but the general feeling was that Eric had won. He hadn't allowed himself to get riled or to go in for instrumental gymnastics as George had. Even when he was drunk, his guitar-playing was unbeatable.
That whole period was insane. Friar Park was a madhouse. Our lives were fuelled by alcohol and cocaine, and so it was with everyone who came into our sphere. We were all as drunk, stoned and single-minded as each other. Nobody seemed to have appointments, deadlines or anything pressing in their lives, no structure and no responsibilities.
Cocaine is a seductive drug because it makes you feel euphoric and good about yourself. It takes away your inhibitions and makes even the shyest, most insecure person feel confident.
And we had so much energy – everyone would talk nonsense for twice as long and drink twice as much because the cocaine made us feel sober. George used cocaine excessively and I think it changed him.
Marijuana wasn't destructive. Dope in the Sixties – a very different drug from the skunk kids smoke today – was about peace, love and increasing awareness. Cocaine was different and I think it froze George's emotions and hardened his heart.
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On New Year's Eve in 1973, Ringo held a party at his home. George went ahead of me and when I arrived he said: 'Let's have a divorce this year.'
In 1974 George told Ringo that he was in love with his wife. Ringo worked himself up into a terrible state and went about saying: 'Nothing is real, nothing is real.'
I was furious. I went straight out and dyed my hair red.
In June that year, I returned home one evening to find Eric, Pete Townshend and Graham Bell, another musician, larking around at our house.
I made them dinner, which we ate amid forced jollity, then Eric took me aside and pleaded with me again to leave George. We were alone together for what felt like hours, and he was so passionate, desperate and compelling that I felt swamped, lost and confused.
I had to make a choice. Would I go to Eric, who had written the most beautiful song for me, who had been to hell and back in the last three years because of me and who had worn me down with his protestations of love?
Or would I choose George, my husband, whom I had loved but who had been cold and indifferent towards me for so long that I could barely remember the last time he'd shown me any affection or told me he loved me?
That night Eric left and went off almost immediately to America on tour. On July 3 I told George I was leaving him. It was late at night and I went into the studio and explained that we were leading a ludicrous and hateful life, and that I was going to America. When he came to bed, I could feel his sadness as he lay beside me. 'Don't go,' he said.
Half of me wanted to stay and to believe him when he said he would make it better, but I was at the end of my tether.
The next day, with a great sadness in my heart, I packed some things, said a tearful goodbye to Friar Park and flew to America. What I had felt for George was a great, deep love. What Eric and I had was an intoxicating, overpowering passion.
It was so intense, so urgent, so heady, I felt almost out of control. Having made the decision to leave my marriage, I knew I had to be with him, go everywhere with him, do everything he did, keep up with him in every way. Which, on that tour of America in 1974, meant drinking.
Wonderful Today, by Pattie Boyd with Penny Junor, is published by Headline Review.
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