George Harrison devoted to other men's wives
A NEW film about George Harrison hints that the former Beatle had an affair with Madonna, Britain's Daily Mail reports.
Another night of chaos and excess at Friar Park, George Harrison’s immense Victorian Gothic home in Henley, was seen through a haze of dope, cocaine and alcohol.
As the evening in 1973 drew to a close, Harrison’s friend and houseguest Ronnie Wood took him aside and told him that he intended to sleep with the former Beatle’s wife Pattie Boyd that evening.
Harrison’s response was to point to the room which Wood was sharing with his wife Krissie and say: "And I shall be sleeping there."
There was a moment on the landing when the two men looked at each other, on the threshold of the two bedrooms, and then they both went in.
Wood slept with Pattie, and Harrison slept with the Rolling Stone’s wife - and even took her off to Spain to meet Salvador Dali a few weeks later, which Wood found amusing.
Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar.
End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar.
During this period, Harrison also slept with Ringo Starr’s wife Maureen, having announced during a dinner party - and in front of Pattie - that he wanted her.
Both Ringo and Pattie were greatly distressed, and Pattie in particular became annoyed by Maureen’s habit of turning up late at night and spending the evening in meditation with her husband, or locking herself away in a studio with him.
George Harrison with second wife, Olivia.
In turn, Pattie slept with Eric Clapton - and eventually the sweet-faced model, who had inspired the classics songs Something and Layla from her two lovers, left Harrison for Clapton in 1974.
In an interview, given for a forthcoming documentary film about Harrison, his close friend Clapton recalls that Harrison was "very cavalier" about the affair with Pattie, and almost gave him "carte blanche" to have sex with her.
"To be honest," Clapton says, shifting in his chair and looking embarrassed, "there was a lot of swapping and fooling around."
(Pattie’s take is rather less benign. She recalls: "That whole period was insane. Friar Park was a madhouse. We were all as drunk, stoned and single-minded as each other.")
It was surely not the intention of the documentary George Harrison: Living In The Material World to depict the Beatle as the prime mover in a sexual free-for-all.
But, driven by a desire to show the so‑called "quiet Beatle" in both "light and shade", it portrays him as a sensitive, spiritual man with serious weaknesses when it came to women.
Madonna flanked by then-husband Sean Penn and rumoured lover George during filming in 1986.
The film, directed by Martin Scorsese, runs for three-and-a-half hours and is in two parts.
It has just premiered at the Telluride documentary festival in America, and will be shown in its entirety on the BBC next month.
In it, Harrison’s second wife Olivia tells of "hiccups" in their marriage when her husband had affairs, even long after those crazy days of the early 1970s with Pattie were over.
With quiet dignity, she describes his attitude to women as "challenging".
They were married in 1978, a month after the birth of their son Dhani, and she was at his bedside when he died of cancer in 2001.
But in between those times, Olivia suggests that her husband had several affairs, which she endured, simply waiting for them to pass and forgiving him when they did.
"He liked women and women liked him," she says. "If he just said a couple of words to you, it would have a profound effect. It was hard to deal with someone who was so well loved," she said.
Sir Paul McCartney adds: "I don’t want to say much because he was a pal, but he liked the things that men like. He was red-blooded."
Red-blooded seems an understatement when it comes to Harrison, who had an abiding fondness for other men’s wives — much like his devotion to marijuana and sitar music.
Beatles expert Bill Harry told me this week: "George had hundreds and hundreds of affairs. John Lennon was probably the most highly-sexed Beatle, but I would put George next after him."
And in their tell-all book The Love You Make, two Beatles roadies, Peter Brown and Steven Gaines, assert: "He wanted to seduce every woman he laid eyes on."
But who were George Harrison’s other women?
Rather extraordinarily, more than one source suspects that he had a heavy flirtation with Madonna on the set of the 1986 film Shanghai Surprise, despite the presence of her first husband Sean Penn.
Certainly, Madonna was at the time deeply unhappy with Penn, and said she found Harrison, who was executive producer of the film, "very understanding and sympathetic".
He came to see them filming in Macau, and also met her several times in London before and after the production.
It was obvious that they got on well, even though the movie turned out to be such a disaster that it was dubbed "Flop Suey".
Madonna’s brother, Christopher Ciccone, noted that, although Harrison felt moved to "read the riot act" to Penn over his hostile and aggressive attitude during filming and gave the actor a stern ticking-off, he treated Madonna with "kid gloves".
During a press conference a few weeks after filming finished, he surprised everyone present by going on the attack over allegations that Madonna had been impossible to work with, passionately denouncing the assembled journalists as "animals".
It all seemed rather unlike the "quiet Beatle".