Pattie Boyd

Patricia Anne Boyd was born March 17, 1945 in Hampstead, England. She was the first child of the Boyd family, who would soon welcome daughters Paula and Helen (better known as Jenny). Pattie had a good relationship with her sisters, particularly Helen, who got her nickname from one of Boyd's favorite dolls. The family moved to Kenya for some time during the 1950's for their father's job, they returned when Pattie was in her late teens. Pattie and her sister Jenny went out to London in 1962, where they began successful modeling careers. They were used to traveling for the jobs, usually to New York City, and Pattie also modeled in Paris for Mod designer Mary Quant. Pattie's exposure in the press led to her getting a commerical contract from American director Richard Lester.

Lester wanted Pattie to be the Smith’s Crisps girl, to advertise for the potato chip brand. She was to be in television advertisements and do promotional appearances at stores throughout London. Around the same time, Lester was hired to direct a film for The Beatles. He liked working with Pattie for the advertisements, and he offered her a small role in the Beatles' first movie, A Hard Day's Night. Pattie was cast as a schoolgirl named Jean in the opening scene. However, her part was shortened to the line "Prisoners?" (She can also be seen during the Beatles’ performance of "I Should’ve Known Better"). Pattie later commented that it would be her last acting role, (which it was), stating "I'm quite happy modeling."

After a few days of filming, Pattie and some of the other schoolgirls asked the Beatles for their autographs, except for John Lennon (Pattie was said to be afraid of his sarcasm). George Harrison, lead guitarist for the band, signed autographs for Pattie and her sisters. He put one kiss on Pattie’s sisters autographs, and seven for Pattie.

Pattie stated on her first meeting with George, "George hardly said hello. When we started filming, I could feel George looking at me and I was a bit embarrassed."

George invited her to visit his trailer, but as Pattie remembered, "I was loyal, not stupid." Realizing he could not get far with that, he then proceeded to ask her on a proper date. Just when George was about to give up, she said yes. Pattie already had a boyfriend, but she found that this date would probably be harmless and he’d never find out. Their first date consisted of going out to dinner and driving around London. Pattie secretly dated George for a few dates, but soon had to break up with Eric Swayne, a 30-year-old photographer whom she dated for two years.

Pattie, circa 1964, said: "Eric was my boyfriend, but not any longer. George is tremendous fun to be with. We want it to stay just fun without having to talk about engagements and marriages."

George Harrison, circa 1964, stated: "She's my kind of girl and we like each other a lot, but marriage is not on our minds. We hope to see more of each other when we can. It isn't a sin to have a girlfriend, is it?"

Once Boyd broke up with her boyfriend, the couple was able to plan their first holiday together to Ireland. This was Pattie’s first exposure to "Beatlemania", for soon the press found out that they were there. Their holiday ruined, all they wanted now was to leave and go back to London. Pattie and Cynthia Lennon (who was also there on holiday with John Lennon) disguised themselves as maids and hid in a dirty linen basket. The basket was then pushed out by a bellboy, who took them to the airport. Unfortunately for the women, he forgot about them, only thinking of the good deed he did. When they finally got out, Lennon and Harrison were laughing hysterically.

Despite the problems in Ireland, the four of them were able to sneak away from the press. They traveled to Waikiki, Hawaii (from May 5 to May 20, 1964). After that, they even stopped by Los Angeles, only being noticed once. But the press found them again, and Pattie would not pose for the photographers. Oddly, George, who would learn to hate the press in later years, finally introduced Pattie as "my 29-year-old sister, my chaperone," as a joke.

With their relationship now public, Pattie started writing a column for 16 Magazine called "Pattie’s Letter From London" which, among other things, included beauty tips. By early 1965, Pattie moved into George’s Esher bungalow, Kinfauns. The fans hated Pattie for taking "their George" away after they realized how serious their relationship was. At the time, the only Beatle wife that had the fans' blessing was Cynthia Lennon. Pattie received most of the torture from the fans. George's fans would stalk Pattie whenever she was out, spit at her, kick her, beat her, and some even had threats of murder if she didn't break up with George. When Pattie told George how the fans acted toward her, George went out to tell the girls to stop it, but they were too busy staring at him, not listening to him.

Things were about to get worse for the fans. George proposed to Pattie on Christmas day, 1965. Pattie would recall in 1968:

"We were just motoring along [to Brian Epstein’s party] listening to the radio when suddenly he very calmly told me he loved me and wanted us to get married. I think I just said yes or some such nonsense, but believe me, inside I was doing cartwheels. We really were very much in love."

(Note: Brian Epstein was the Beatles' manager at the time.)

However, in an 1989 interview, Pattie remembered a different scenario:

"George jumped out [of the car], went to see Brian, came back ten minutes later and said: 'It's all right. Brian has said we can get married in January. Off we go!' I said: 'What?' I didn't have any idea that he wanted to marry me. He didn't actually consult me about it. But Brian had given his blessing and said it was quite all right. God had spoken! It was going to be fine."

They were married soon after the proposal, January 21, 1966 at the Epsom Registry Office in Surrey. Some authors point out that George became the first Beatle to marry by choice, not because his girlfriend was pregnant (e.g., John, Ringo). Brian Epstein was the best man, and Paul McCartney was the only Beatle in attendance. John and Ringo sent their best wishes, flowers, and very expensive gifts for the newlyweds. The couple were in outfits designed by Mary Quant, and to many, it was the picture perfect marriage. They posed for the obligatory wedding photos with their families, and were headed off to Barbados, where they let the press take photos of them on the beach together.

When they returned to Esher after their honeymoon, the Harrisons entertained guests. Pattie’s sisters came over a lot, because often George was out. George said he didn’t want any more press, so Pattie was to give up her budding modeling career. Her last photo shoot was with her sister, Jenny, for Vogue UK. Pattie tried to help out the poor, but the press made a big story out of it. Pattie was forced to become "a northern wife" and give up her career for the sake of her husband's.

During the 1960, a new culture in London was emerging, with free love and drugs. Pattie, along with many other of the fashionable people of the 1960's, soon found the usual glasses of wine replaced by marijuana, LSD and heroin. Pattie's first experience with LSD took place in 1964. In the 1980's, Cynthia Lennon recounted the events of the night:

"I’ll always remember that when we walked into this man’s [a one-time friend of George Harrison’s] drawing room. There were four lumps of sugar arranged along the mantelpiece. We (Cynthia & John Lennon; George and Pattie Harrison) all had a delicious dinner and lots of wine. When the coffee came, one of the four sugar lumps was put into each of our cups. It was as if we sudenly found ourselves in the middle of a horror film. The room seemed to get bigger and bigger. Our host seemed to change into a demon. We were all terrified. We knew it was something evil-we had to get out of the house. But this man told us we couldn’t leave. We got away somehow, in George’s Mini, but he came after us in a taxi. It was like having the devil following us in a taxi. We tried to drive to some club-the Speakeasy, I think it was. Four of us, packed into a Mini. Everybody seemed to be going mad. Patti wanted to get out and smash all the windows along Regent Street. Then we turned around and started heading for George’s place in Esher. God knows how we got there. John was crying and banging his head against the wall. I tried to make myself sick, and couldn’t. I tried to got to sleep, and couldn’t. It was like a nightmare that wouldn’t stop, whatever you did. None of us got over it for about three days."

As Pattie's drug consumption increased, so did her need for fulfillment in life. The Harrisons had taken a trip to India in 1966, and were fascinated by the country. When a friend suggested that Pattie hear Marharsi Mahesh Yogi speak, she thought it was a good idea. She told Harrison, and eventually most of The Beatles and their entourage went to hear him speak. Pattie thought it would be a good idea to get spiritual fulfillment by going to this lecture, since she wasn't happy being by herself all the time. However, Beatle biographers say that she would eventually regret this decision for two reasons. First, George fell deeply in love with India and being very spiritual, a major part in the breakup of their marriage. Secondly, they all came back disappointed by not receiving spiritual satisfaction, feeling cheated by the Maraharsi, who had less than spritiual practices (a possible ploy by Magic Alex). The end of their happy marriage was coming.

On March 12, 1969 (the same day Paul and Linda McCartney were married), Pattie answered the door of Kinfauns (the Harrisons' home in Esher) to find Sergeant Norman Pilcher. He had a warrant to search their house for illegal substances. They tore the house up looking for whatever they could find. They were charged with possession of cannabis resin [marijuana]. They were taken to the jail and released on bail. They plead guilty, and they claimed they had no idea the drugs were where they were. They had a stash somewhere else they said, which weren’t found. Ironically, the Sergeant who searched the house was charged with planting illegal drugs on an innocent suspect a few years later. However,this wasn’t the first time that Pattie and George were involved in drug busts. A bit earlier in 1967, Pattie, George, Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, along with some other friends, were partying at Keith Richards' home. As usual, drugs were present, mostly LSD, but also heroin, (a famous Faithfull vice). The police knew what was going on, but with the Beatles’ lawyer David Jacobs and manager Brian Epstein, who the police respected, they were alright. Only a few hours after the Harrisons left, did the police raid the house. By the time of the Harrisons' drug bust, both David Jacobs and Brian Epstein were dead.

Harrison's infidelities were also increasing by this time. There was always some affair to be carried on for him, and with his increasing drug and religious isolation from his wife, it only got worse. Harrison acted upon the chances given to him, which was the complete opposite of Pattie. There were plently of opportunities for her as well, even an tryst with John Lennon, (who was infactuated with Pattie), but Pattie still cared deeply for her husband. She was aware of the problems in her marriage, but did not have an affair at this point.

While their marriage was unraveling, Eric Clapton became friends with George Harrison. Clapton did uncredited work on Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and they became instant friends. Clapton would spend a lot of time with George and Pattie, and he could tell things weren't good between the couple. Pattie flirted a lot with Clapton to get her husband's attention, but the plan backfired, Clapton was falling in love with Pattie, and becoming extremelly jealous of his best friend.

Clapton's attempt to win Boyd's heart started with an affair with one of her sisters. He also started to reject religion, which he thought caused Pattie's unhappiness. Pattie finally listened to Clapton, and they started a brief affair, but as she would comment later, she was not one to carry on extramartial affairs. Clapton's obsessive love for her fascinated and frightened her, and when he said it was either drugs or her, Pattie backed out of the relationship. Her rejection, along with the death of Clapton's good friend Jimi Hendrix, led Eric into a four-year bout of depression and drugs.

Boyd later recalled the experience:
"Eric showed me this packet of heroin and said: 'Either you come away with me or I will take this'. I was appalled. I grabbed at it and tried to throw it away, but he snatched it back...At first, I felt guilt. Then I felt anger because it was totally irrational of him to blame me for something he was probably going to do anyway; it was very selfish and destructive."

It was during this time Clapton played in Derek and the Dominoes. "Layla", one of the band's most popular songs, which was as straightforward to Pattie. The title came from the 1,000-page work called, The Story Of Layla And Manjun. It was about a Manjun's obsessive love for women he could not have, Layla. Clapton biographers say that the song has little to do with the text, other than the title.

While Clapton went into seclusion from the public, Pattie had problems of her own. She had suspected that George had cheated on her, but the proof came during night at Ringo and Maureen Starkey's house. Harrison suddenly confessed how much he loved Maureen, and Harrison broke down in tears. Ringo Starr, who knew of Harrison's ways, could just roll his eyes. After Harrison's affair with Maureen Starr, Boyd started to defy what was told to her by Harrison. She started modeling again, and began a relationship with guitarist Ron Wood. As many things began to change in her life, Boyd had a near-fatal accident in 1972.

George Harrison always loved racing cars, and when he drove along roads, he drove just as fast. Pattie was in the car when they crashed, and she was knocked out unconscious and had serious injuries, including broken ribs, cuts and bruises. She was admitted into a hospital, where she stayed for several weeks, and then had rehabiliation for a while after that. When Boyd got her strength back, she was back out again with Harrison. Eric Clapton, even though still in depression, would often come out to some parties. On one particular night, he attended a party that the Harrisons also had gone to. Clapton got George's attention when Pattie was away, and simply told him, "I'm in love with your wife." Harrison just replied, "Fine, you get her, I get your girlfriend." By this time, Pattie came back on the scene and was completely shocked that Clapton had the nerve to tell George that he loved her and that Harrison was insensitive to her. She left angry at the both of them. But it was only a matter of time before she left George.

One night in 1974, George decided on the spur of the moment to try one more time to straighten out his marriage to Pattie, but it was too late. Pattie had flown to Los Angeles in desperation and was staying with her sister Jenny, and her husband, Mick Fleetwood. Soon after, she went to see Eric Clapton in Miami. After all his heartache of not being able to have Pattie as his wife, he finally had the woman of his dreams. George’s and Pattie’s divorce was finalized June 9, 1977. George on Eric’s relationship with Pattie:

"We both loved Eric, still do.... Pattie and he got together after we’d really split, and actually we’d been splitting up for years. That was the funny thing, you know. I thought that was the best thing to do, for us to split, and we’d should’ve done it much sooner. I didn't have any problems about it..."

Boyd later recalled her decision to leave Harrison for Clapton:

"In my naivete, I believed everything was all right. He wasn't taking heroin (anymore), which I thought was the main addiction for him. But, as it turned out, his drug of choice turned out to be alcohol."

Pattie and Eric were married in Tucson, AZ, Mar 27, 1979, at the Apostolic Assembly of Faith in Christ Church by the Rev. Daniel Sanchez, but only his band mates and some roadies, Roger Forrester (tour manager), and Rob and Myel Fraboni were in attendance. Pattie was staying at Rob and Myel Fraboni's in California when Eric proposed to her (over the phone, no less). Rob was best man and Myel was Matron of Honor. Another California friend, Chris O'Dell was also in the party as a Maid of Honor. Alphi O'Leary (EC's bodyguard) and Nigel Carroll (Pattie's sister Paula's boyfriend) were ushers. There was a party at the hotel that night with the traditional cake mashing, etc. He brought her on stage the next night in Tucson and played "Wonderful Tonight" for her. Clapton had a "no girlfriend/wife on tour" rule, but he broke his own rule and allowed Pattie to accompany him on tour from Tucson, AZ (Mar 28th) until Monroe, LA (Apr 14th). Then he sent her home to Hurtwood. The real reception with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Denny Laine, Mick Jagger, etc. took place some weeks later back in England at Hurtwood Edge during a break in the tour (May 19, to be exact). But, on May 25th, Eric was back on tour in Augusta, Georgia and Pattie was left alone at Hurtwood (a situation that would often be her fate). References for the above are: pp. 221-225 Crossroads: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton by Michael Schumacher, pp. 198-210 Clapton by Ray Coleman, and pp. 174-176 Clapton: Edge of Darkness. Thanks to EC fan, Tess Chatham.

Boyd was again being left at Hurtwood Edge by herself. Clapton's alcoholism got very bad, to the point that he went to a clinic. Boyd's efforts to help him beat his addict were trying on their relationship:

"It was becoming very difficult. You'd look for the part of the person you know and love, but it was hard to find."

By 1985, she had had enough. Clapton had very public affairs and two children by other women, and by this time she was publicly humiliated. She knew she couldn't have children, and this was in part to blame for the failure of her marriages. They were separated, and by 1989, the divorce was finalized.

"It probably took me six years to get over it, with four years of psychotherapy. My self-esteem was unbelievably low, and I found it really hard to build up relationships because I had been used to difficult people. Anybody who was sweet and nice to me was no challenge."

During this difficult time for Boyd, she refocused on her career as a professional photographer. Although she continues to be involved in photography, she has also become actively involved in charity work. In 1991, she co-founded SHARP with Barbara Bach, which aids drug addicts and alcoholics. That same year, Boyd met property developer Rod Weston, who has been her companion for over eight years.

Just because she's not married to either Harrison or Clapton doesn't mean her social standing has decreased. Pattie has long been friends with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who "treat her like royalty", and enjoys the company of some of London's most exclusive social circles. The same members of these social circles (Barbara Bach, Christabel Durham) have also become involved in Pattie's latest project, a fundraising concert with Jools Holland and his orchestra.

"I've become involved in this because of people - friends - who have been in trouble as a result of alcohol and drug abuse. It's harrowing, totally harrowing, to watch."

During a majority of Boyd's life, drugs have had their effect. Her former husband, Eric Clapton, was an alcoholic throughout their relationship. George Harrison was also involved with drugs in the 1960's and 1970's, during his marriage to Boyd. Said Boyd on the subject:

"It's amazing we're all still alive."

Some songs written for/about Ms. Boyd:

  • "Layla"
  • "Wonderful Tonight"
  • "Old Love" (post-divorce)
  • "Pretty Girl"
  • "Man in Love"
  • "Shape you're In"
  • "Pretty Blue Eyes"
    (thanks to astute reader CL)

    Writer's note: The Pattie Boyd biography has been written with information complied from the following sources: The Beatles' authorized biography, press interviews by Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Pattie Boyd, and unauthorized books on The Beatles, George Harrison, John Lennon and Eric Clapton.

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