Eric Clapton was married to Pattie Boyd for some time, though their marriage was filled with Clapton’s infidelities and abuse, both of which he has admitted. Before their time together, however, Boyd was with another famous guitarist – George Harrison of the Beatles.
Did Eric Clapton steal George Harrison’s wife?
George Harrison met young model Pattie Boyd in 1964 when Boyd was cast as a schoolgirl, aged 19, in the movie A Hard Day’s Night, one of the Beatles films.
The pair married on January 21, 1966, with Sir Paul McCartney serving as best man.
Boyd accompanied Harrison on his early trips to India, as the guests of Ravi Shankar, and soon the couple made regular returns to India as Harrison became interested in Transcendental Meditation.
This interest soon divided the couple, however, and after eight years of marriage and a series of infidelities from both partners, they separated in 1974, before their divorce was finalised in 1977.
Harrison was evidently devastated by this, and released his 1973 song So Sad, in which he described Boyd as his ‘closest companion’ and someone who shared in his ‘triumphs and tragedies.’
In Joshua Greene’s book Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison, Boyd’s solicitor Paddy Grafton-Green discussed how kind the pair were to one another during divorce proceedings.
He said: “There was no overreacting, no greed or playing with each other’s emotions – I wish all divorces were so well handled.”
Despite Harrison and Boyd clearly attempting to stay friendly, interest from another guitarist during their marriage could have likely caused issues.
According to Peter Doggett’s book You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup, Clapton met Boyd in the late 1960s, when he had become friends with Harrison.
Mr Doggett suggests this is when Clapton fell in love with Boyd, and in an attempt to focus on someone else, he took up with Boyd’s sister, Paula.
It has even been suggested one of Clapton’s most famous songs, Layla, is about Boyd, as were many of the love songs Clapton composed during that time.
According to Gary Tillery’s book Working Class Mystic: A Spiritual Biography of George Harrison, Clapton made advances to Boyd in the early 1970s, which Boyd refused, which may have contributed to his spiral into drug addiction and self-imposed exile.
However, after Clapton had been through rehabilitation, he pursued Boyd again, by which point her marriage was ending.
Eventually, Boyd relented and the pair married in 1979, only two years after her divorce from Harrison.
According to Joshua Greene’s book, Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison, the couple remained friends with Harrison, who even jokingly referred to Clapton as his ‘husband-in-law.’
Despite Clapton’s efforts to make Boyd his bride, after the pair eventually got together he was abusive and regularly cheated on her with various women, two of whom he ended up having children with.
In 1999, Clapton admitted the abuse to the New York Post, saying: “There were times when I took sex with my wife by force and thought that was my entitlement.
Phillips was also married at the time, and their lovechild was kept secret for six years.
As well as this affair, Clapton also cheated on Boyd with Italian model Lory Del Santo, with whom he had a son, Conor, in 1986.
During this time, Clapton and Boyd had tried various methods to get pregnant, including IVF, which were unsuccessful and eventually they divorced in 1989.
While Clapton believed Boyd to be the one for him, sadly their relationship was no easy ride for either of them.
Harrison, Boyd and Clapton all went on to remarry, and all have remained with their subsequent partners for extended periods.