She was already a successful model working for the best English agencies. She had appeared on the covers of the top magazines of the time, captivating thousands with her beautiful deep blue eyes and the way she projected a shy sensuality with her gaze. She was also a photographer, but her success in modeling took up most of her time. Cameras loved her, especially when she was in front of them and for that reason, she was called in to participate in the movie A Hard Day’s Night in March, 1964. Pattie Boyd was extraordinarily beautiful; she was one of those people who outshone many and even dazzled two of the most important musicians in rock history.
She got the part but was a bit disappointed because her role only had one line; however, she never expected to leave the set with one of the Fab Four members’ phone number. They began going out, and the media went crazy with the news of a romance between a Beatle and one of the most desired women of the time. Interviews, photographs, gossip, etc, there was a huge production behind this “important” moment in the celebrity circle. She’s stated that her first impression she had of George Harrison, the “Silent Beatle,” was that he “was the best-looking man [she] had ever seen.”
They began a very controversial, yet stable relationship approved by Brian Epstein, The Beatles’ manager and personal counselor. They got married at the beginning of 1965 and became one of the most enviable relationships of the time. In the eyes of show business, they became the ideal couple and role models regarding their harmony as a couple; however, what happened behind the spotlight was entirely different.
The Beatles were at its peak; having settled as one of the best bands in the world, they decided to abandon their boy band image and experiment with different sounds and styles more related to their personal interests, instead of just pleasing a needy global audience. They produced music that reached more subtle levels; they began exploring new subjects besides their classic conventional love ones and were able to get rid of the “good boy” image that launched them to stardom.
With this identity and sensorial revolution –in addition to the social changes that influenced the spirits of young people during the late sixties and seventies– the relationship between Harrison and Boyd changed as well. The affinity they had felt at the beginning evolved into a committed, serious relationship that, sometimes, due to the tight schedule of the band was hard to bear. Boyd was never seen as a disruptive element for the band as years later Yoko Ono did; she always stood on the peripheries. This also proved to be a frustrating experience for the model who felt constantly overwhelmed and lonely.
She was the inspiration and muse behind one of the most beautiful songs ever written, “Something” from Abbey Road. With this album the band reached the peak in their artistic production. This newfound creative road was the best choice they could’ve ever made. The spiritual tone, the pursuit of beauty, and the transcendental tint that impregnated their music resulted in one of the most prodigious works of music.
During this period, the band decided to take a trip to India to explore this process of introspection they were interested in. By this time, George Harrison had already written many songs –that sometimes exceeded the level of his partners, Lennon and McCartney. He became an avid follower of the Hare Krishna movement and dedicated a lot of his spare time to meditation. In 1971, after the band dissolved, Harrison organized The Concert for Bangladesh, a pioneering charity show to help people from this country; he invited many colleagues, including his best friend Eric Clapton. Little did he know that his friend was going to fall in love and marry his wife years later.
Bewitched by Boyd’s beauty, Clapton wrote a short letter signing with just an “e,” in which he confessed his love for her. Being used to receiving anonymous letters, she showed George the letter who didn’t give much notice. Later on, Clapton called her to ask if she had received his message. That was how the tension of one of the most controversial love triangles of music’s history began. Not only a marriage was at stake, but also a brother-like friendship between to geniuses of music.
Despite feeling an immense love for her husband, Pattie began going out a lot with Eric Clapton. Both attended social events and more that once they were seen together at concerts. The rumors were rife, and one afternoon of 1970 Clapton invited Boyd to his house where he played “Layla” on his recorder. She immediately knew the song was about her, which made her feel very confused and uncomfortable. Boyd rejected Clapton many times and he even threatened to fall into drugs if she didn’t accept him.
She was able to distinguish between blackmailing and the terrible problems her marriage was going through. After the dissolution of The Beatles, Harrison became a distant, careless person, and after many love affairs he had with other women, Boyd saw Clapton’s proposals more appealing and convincing. By 1974, Harrison and Boyd split up, and by 1977 the marriage was over. After years in exile Clapton stopped using drugs, and in 1979 Pattie decided to marry him. After 14 years of a troubled marriage, Pattie got her second divorce. It was obvious to many that their personalities didn’t match, but still, there was something about her that awoke his creativity . She inspired both Harrison and Clapton to create some of the most beautiful love songs of rock history.
After her second divorce, Pattie Boyd quit her modeling career and went back to her forgotten passion, photography. She opened a gallery in New York, where she exhibited all the work she had done during the time she spent with The Beatles, as well as unpublished photographs depicting intimate moments of Harrison and Clapton’s lives. Years later she released her memoir in Wonderful Tonight, an autobiography titled after a song that Clapton wrote for her, which reminded her of a life of excesses and the anxiety of having to choose between two of the most talented musicians in history, whose chords never stopped resonating with her name.
Women have always been relegated from being main characters in history. In the pages of rock’s history many have made important contributions behind the spotlight; get to know The Girl That Made Pink Floyd Famous And Was Forgotten For 50 Years.
Translated by María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards