Pattie Boyd: 'My hellish love triangle with George and Eric'
6th August 2007
The Daily Mail
George Harrison wrote the love song Something for his wife Pattie Boyd. Eric Clapton wrote Layla for her. Theirs was the most extraordinary love triangle in rock history.
Now, after four decades of silence, the woman who drove two music legends wild tells the raw, unexpurgated story of her life...
We met secretly at a flat in South Kensington. Eric Clapton had asked me to come because he wanted me to listen to a new number he had written.
He switched on the tape machine, turned up the volume and played me the most powerful, moving song I had ever heard. It was Layla, about a man who falls hopelessly in love with a woman who loves him but is unavailable.
He played it to me two or three times, all the while watching my face intently for my reaction. My first thought was: 'Oh God, everyone's going to know this is about me.'
High minds: George and Pattie pictured shortly before they broke up
I was married to Eric's close friend, George Harrison, but Eric had been making his desire for me clear for months. I felt uncomfortable that he was pushing me in a direction in which I wasn't certain I wanted to go.
But with the realisation that I had inspired such passion and creativity, the song got the better of me. I could resist no longer.
That evening I was going to the theatre to see Oh! Calcutta! with a friend and then on to a party at the home of pop impresario Robert Stigwood. George didn't want to go to the show or the party.
After the interval at Oh!Calcutta! I came back to find Eric in the next seat, having persuaded a stranger to swap places with him. Afterwards we went to Robert's house separately but we were soon together. It was a great party and I felt elated by what had happened earlier in the day but also deeply guilty.
During the early hours, George appeared. He was morose and his mood was not improved by walking into a party that had been going on for several hours and where most of the guests were high on drugs.
He kept asking 'Where's Pattie?' but no one seemed to know. He was about to leave when he spotted me in the garden with Eric. It was just getting light, and very misty. George came over and demanded: 'What's going on?' To my horror, Eric said: 'I have to tell you, man, that I'm in love with your wife.'
I wanted to die. George was furious. He turned to me and said: 'Well, are you going with him or coming with me?'
I had met George six years previously, in 1964, when he was filming A Hard Day's Night. Britain and most of Europe was in the grip of Beatlemania.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were mobbed everywhere they went, and at their concerts thousands of hysterical teenagers cried and screamed so loudly that no one could hear the music.
Shortly before they started shooting A Hard Day's Night, The Beatles took America by storm. In February 1964 they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, one of America's most prestigious programmes, and attracted an audience of 73million.
I was a model, working with some of the most successful photographers in London, including David Bailey and Terence Donovan. I was appearing in newspapers and magazines such as Vanity Fair and Vogue, but in March my agent sent me along to a casting session for a film.
Scroll down to view an exclusive video interview with Pattie...
She called later to tell me I had been offered the part of a schoolgirl fan in a Beatles film. On first impressions, John seemed more cynical and brash than the others, Ringo the most endearing, Paul was cute and George, with velvet-brown eyes and dark chestnut hair, was the best-looking man I had ever seen. At a break for lunch I found myself sitting next to him. Being close to him was electrifying.
Almost the first thing he said to me was: 'Will you marry me?' He was joking but there was a hint of seriousness. We got together soon after that and married two years later on January 21, 1966. I was 21, he was 22. I was so happy and so much in love. I thought we would be together and happy for ever.
Honeymoon: Pattie and George in Barbados
Three years later, in 1969, George wrote a song called Something. He told me in a matter-of-fact way that he had written it for me. I thought it was beautiful and it turned out to be the most successful song he ever wrote, with more than 150 cover versions.
Frank Sinatra said he thought it was the best love song ever written. George's favourite version was the one by James Brown. Mine was the one by George Harrison, which he played to me in our kitchen.
But, in fact, by then our relationship was in trouble. Since a trip to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in India in 1968, George had become obsessive about meditation. He was also sometimes withdrawn and depressed.
My moods started to mirror his and at times I felt almost suicidal. I don't think I was ever in any real danger of killing myself but I got as far as working out how I would do it: put on a diaphanous Ossie Clark dress and throw myself off Beachy Head.
And there were other women, which really hurt me. George was fascinated by the god Krishna who was always surrounded by young maidens. He came back from India wanting to be some kind of Krishna figure, a spiritual being with lots of concubines. He actually said so.
No woman was out of bounds. I was friendly with a French girl who was going out with Eric Clapton. When she and Eric broke up, she came to stay with us at our house, Kinfauns, in Esher, Surrey.
She didn't seem remotely upset about Eric and was uncomfortably close to George. Something was going on between them but when I questioned George he told me my imagination was running away with me, that I was paranoid.
I left to stay with friends and within days George phoned to say the girl had gone. I returned home but I was shocked that he could do such a thing to me. I felt unloved and miserable.
Chilled: George relaxes in India in 1968
It was around this time that Eric began to come over to our house. He and George had become close friends, writing and recording music together.
Eric's guitar playing was held in awe by his fellow musicians. Graffiti declaring 'Clapton is God' had been scrawled on the London Underground, and he was an incredibly exciting performer to watch. He looked wonderful on stage, very sexy.
But when I met him he didn't behave like a rock star – he was surprisingly shy and reticent. I was aware that Eric found me attractive and I enjoyed the attention he paid me.
It was hard not to be flattered when I caught him staring at me or when he chose to sit beside me. He complimented me on what I was wearing and the food I had cooked, and he said things he knew would make me laugh. Those were all things that George no longer did.
One night in December 1969 I took my 17-year-old sister Paula to see Eric play in Liverpool. Paula was very pretty and a bit of a wild child, and that night Eric fell for her. After the show we all went to a restaurant and everyone was quite drunk and raucous. When the rest of us went back to the hotel, we left Eric and Paula dancing.
The next night Eric was playing in Croydon and again Paula and I went to watch, and again there was a wild after-show party, this time at Eric's Italianate manor house, Hurtwood Edge in Ewhurst, Surrey. Soon after, Paula moved in with Eric.
In March 1970, George and I moved into a new house. Friar Park was a magnificent Victorian Gothic pile near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, with 25 bedrooms, a ballroom, a library, a formal garden of 12 acres and a further 20 acres of land.
Relaxed: Eric drinks in the garden of Pattie and George's Friar Park home
One morning shortly after moving in, a letter arrived for me with the words 'express' and 'urgent' written on the envelope. Inside I found a small piece of paper. In small, immaculate writing, with no capital letters, I read: 'dearest l,'as you have probably gathered, my own home affairs are a galloping farce, which is rapidly degenerating day by intolerable day . . . it seems like an eternity since i last saw or spoke to you!'
He needed to ascertain my feelings: id I still love my husband or did I have another lover? More crucially, did I still have feelings in my heart for him? He had to know, and urged me to write. 'please do this, whatever it may say, my mind will be at rest . . .'all my love, e.'
I assumed it was from some weirdo.
I got fan mail occasionally – when I wasn't getting hate mail from George's fans. I showed it to George and others who were at the house. They laughed and dismissed it, as I had.
That evening the phone rang. It was Eric. 'Did you get my letter?' he asked.