Beatles’ George Harrison & Eric Clapton Were in a Love Triangle With Model Pattie Boyd

Musicians George Harrison (left) and Eric Clapton performing on stage together as part of an all-star band for music legend Carl Perkins, October 23rd 1985.
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The Beatles‘ star George Harrison was married to model Pattie Boyd from 1966 until 1977. Their marriage was not without its ups and downs. Harrison found himself in a love triangle with Boyd and singer Eric Clapton. Harrison and Clapton were best friends in the ’60s and by 1970 Clapton confessed that he was in love with Boyd. The ins and outs of the love triangle are featured in the new book called “George Harrison: The Reluctant Beatle” by bestselling biographer Philip Norman.

22nd January 1966: Beatles guitarist George Harrison (1943 - 2001) and his wife of one day, 21 year old model Patti Boyd. The couple held a press reception a day after their marriage at the offices of NEMS, Brian Epstein's company, in Argyll Street, London.

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Norman revealed, “George was a massive contradiction. And this very curious relationship evolved after his best friend Eric Clapton became absolutely infatuated with his first wife… You never truly know what goes on between these guitar superheroes.” Harrison and Boyd met when she had a small role in the Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night and Harrison fell for her hard and fast. They wed just two years after meeting.

English guitarist George Harrison (1943 - 2001) of the Beatles with his wife, model Pattie Boyd, circa 1970

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A few years later, Harrison’s moods began to shift. He was reportedly quite moody and paranoid as he went back and forth between meditating and doing coke with rockstars. This contradictory lifestyle put a strain on his marriage as Boyd was often the one he took things out on, emotionally. Around the same time, Harrison and Clapton became friends and would hang out in each other’s homes. This was when Clapton began to fall for Boyd and she ate up all of the attention. Clapton’s hit song “Layla” is even about her.

British blues-rock guitarist Eric Clapton and his girlfriend fashion model Patti Boyd, ex-wife of ex-Beatle George Harrison, pictured at the premiere of the rock musical film 'Tommy' in London's Leicester Square, 26th March 1975

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Norman added, “Eric was owning up to his feelings on stage when he played that song. She had no idea that he was so infatuated with her for a long, long time. Eventually, he wrote her a rather tortured letter which she thought was just another fan letter from one of George’s fans. She didn’t get it at all.” Eventually, they talked about their feelings but she stayed with Harrison for three more years. They split when Harrison had an affair with Maureen Starkey, Ringo Starr’s wife. Boyd and Clapton ended up getting married in 1979 until 1989. Boyd reportedly made up with both men after both divorces and is now married to Rod Weston.

English guitarist and singer Eric Clapton with model Pattie Boyd, the wife of George Harrison of the Beatles, UK, 14th November 1974. Boyd's divorce from Harrison was finalised in 1977 and she married Clapton in 1979

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A love letter that occurred during the love triangle days just sold in an auction. The letter was written by Clapton in 1970 to Boyd when she was already married to his friend Harrison. The letter begins, “I am writing this note to you, with the main purpose of ascertaining your feelings toward a subject well known to both of us. What I wish to ask you is if you still love your husband, or if you have another lover? All these questions are very impertinent I know, but if there is still a feeling in your heart for me… you must let me know!” The letter was signed “E” and Boyd initially showed it to Harrison because she believed it was from a “weird fan.”

26th June 1967: Fashion model Pattie Boyd, wife of Beatle George Harrison, modelling a wig

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Boyd explained her reasons for giving up the letter and other items including photos up for auction. She shared with Christie’s in London, who is hosting the auction, “I thought, ‘Do I need them? Do I need to keep going into Pandora’s Box?’ I’ve enjoyed them for many, many years, and now it’s time for other people to see and enjoy them. It’s only right I should pass them on.” The items sold for $3.6 million, taking in much more than the auction house expected.

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British Invasion

March 2017

This mop-topped issue has the top 25 British Invasion acts and the second British Invasion of the 1970s and '80s.

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