Patricia Anne "Pattie" Boyd (born 17 March 1944) is an English model and photographer, and the first wife of George Harrison of The Beatles, after whom she married Eric Clapton. She was the inspiration of love songs written by both musicians, most notably Harrison's "Something," and Clapton's "Layla," "Wonderful Tonight," and "Bell Bottom Blues."
Boyd started her modeling career in 1962, but was rejected by many photographers owing to her unconventional looks, including rather prominent front teeth; one stated, "models don't look like rabbits." She modeled in London, New York and Paris (for Mary Quant and others), and was photographed by David Bailey and Terence Donovan.
An exhibition of photographs taken by Boyd during her days with Harrison and Clapton opened at the San Francisco Art Exchange on February 14, 2005, titled Through the Eye of a Muse. The exhibition also ran again in San Francisco in February 2006, and for six weeks between June and July 2006, in London.
Early years and career
Boyd was born in Taunton, Somerset, to Colin Ian Langdon Boyd and Diana Frances Drysdale (married 14 September 1942). She was the eldest child, before Colin (1946) Helen Mary (later known as Jenny, 1947, later married to Mick Fleetwood) and Paula (1951). Boyd nicknamed Helen "Jenny," after one of her favorite dolls. The Boyds moved to Nairobi, Kenya, from 1948 to 1953, after her father's discharge from the Royal Air Force following a severe injury as a pilot during WWII. Diana and Colin divorced in 1952, and Diana returned to England with her four children following her remarriage to Robert Gaymer-Jones in February 1953 in Tanganyika (now Tanzania). They had two sons named David J.B. (1954) and Robert, Jr. (1955), Pattie's half-brothers. Boyd attended convent boarding schools until 1961, and moved to London in 1962, first working at Elizabeth Arden's as a shampoo girl. A client who worked for a fashion magazine asked her if she had thought of a modeling as a career.
Boyd modeled in London, New York, and Paris (for Mary Quant), and was photographed by David Bailey and Terence Donovan. She appeared on covers of the UK and Italian editions of Vogue in 1969. After becoming George Harrison's girlfriend, Boyd was asked by Gloria Stavers to write a regular column for 16 Magazine. Twiggy, the popular 1960s model, commented that she based her own look on Boyd when starting her modeling career in 1966.
Boyd, who was nineteen in 1964, met Harrison during the filming for A Hard Day's Night, after being cast as a schoolgirl fan for the film. Boyd was "semi-engaged" to boyfriend Eric Swayne, whom she'd dated for about a year, and out of loyalty declined Harrison's first invitation for a date, but said that Harrison was the most beautiful man she had ever seen. One of the first things Harrison said to her was "Will you marry me?" Boyd laughed, so Harrison said, "Well, if you won't marry me, will you have dinner with me tonight?" Several days later, when Boyd was recalled for another day's work on the film, Harrison asked her out again and she accepted, having ended the relationship with Swayne. Their first date was spent at the Garrick Club (a private gentlemen's club) in Covent Garden, in the company of The Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein.
Boyd was present, along with Harrison, John and Cynthia Lennon, during their first encounter with LSD in early 1965. A dentist, John Riley, the son of a London police officer, laced their coffee with the drug. The effect differed among all of them, with Lennon and Harrison feeling ecstatic in the beginning, but Boyd and Cynthia feeling confused and scared. In an agitated state, Boyd threatened to break a store window until Harrison dragged her away.
Harrison and Boyd were driving through London in December 1965 when he proposed marriage to her, but said he would have to talk to Epstein first; this was to make sure no Beatles tours had been planned. Boyd married Harrison on 21 January 1966, in a ceremony in Epsom, Surrey, with Paul McCartney (Best Man) and Epstein in attendance. John Lennon and Ringo Starr had gone on holiday abroad with their wives, distracting journalists from finding out about the wedding. Pattie started living with George at Kinfauns in 1965. Boyd and Harrison later went on holiday with Epstein, staying at the Hotel Cap Estrelle near Eze, in the south of France.
While Lennon was in Spain filming How I Won the War in September 1966, Harrison and Boyd flew to Bombay (now called Mumbai) as guests of sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar, and returned to London on 23 October 1966. Through her interest in Eastern mysticism and her membership in his Spiritual Regeneration Movement, she inspired The Beatles to meet the Indian mystic, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in London on 24 August 1967, which resulted in a visit to Bangor, in Wales, to join him again in the following day. Boyd attended the Our World broadcast of "All You Need Is Love," which was shown on 25 June 1967. Boyd was also arrested on 12 March 1969 for possession of marijuana, after a police raid.
Lennon and Mick Jagger were also said to have had crushes on Boyd, with Jagger admitting to then-girlfriend Bebe Buell in the 1980s that he had failed to seduce Boyd after trying for years. Boyd had a brief affair with future Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood in 1973, as her marriage to Harrison was ending. According to Boyd, Harrison backed out of a planned holiday with her (claiming to be ill) and then invited Krissie Wood (Wood's wife) on a holiday to Spain to see Salvador Dali, although Harrison later denied that he and Krissie Wood had had an affair. According to Boyd's account, while Harrison was in Spain with Krissie Wood, she (Boyd) traveled to the Bahamas with her sister Paula, and was joined by Ron Wood. Boyd and Wood were spotted by the press upon their return to London, on 25 November 1973, which was reported in the press. Boyd states that Harrison's increasing religious explorations irrevocably alienated her, and they split in June 1974 and flew to Los Angeles to stay with her sister Jenny.
In the late 1960s, Clapton and Harrison became close friends, and began writing and recording music together. It was reported at this time that Clapton fell in love with Boyd. Clapton also fell in love with Boyd's 17-year-old sister, Paula, who moved in with him. Paula left Clapton when she heard "Layla," because the song confirmed that Clapton had been using her as a substitute for her sister. Boyd claims that when she rebuffed Clapton's advances in late 1970, he descended into heroin addiction and self-imposed exile with Alice Ormsby-Gore for three years. Meanwhile, during Clapton's tenure in Derek and the Dominos, their only studio album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, was written to state his love for Boyd. It produced "Layla" which became a hit in three different decades, and in two different versions.
The outward image of the perfect couple masked struggles within their marriage, which began in 1979. Although Boyd drank and admits to past drug use, unlike Clapton she never became an alcoholic or a drug addict. Boyd states that she left Clapton at one point due to his refusal to seek treatment for his alcoholism, and she began seeing a photographer, Will Christie. In 1984, Clapton began a year-long relationship with Yvonne Kelly; they had a daughter, Ruth, born in January 1985. Clapton and Kelly did not make any public announcement about the birth of their daughter, and Ruth was not revealed as his child until 1991, at the funeral of his son Conor. Boyd says that she did not know of Ruth's existence until 1991: "What cut deepest was that Eric had known about the child all along. While declaring undying love to me and pleading with me to go back to him, he had been paying Yvonne maintenance for the past six years." Boyd states that she divorced Clapton after years of alcoholism as well as numerous affairs on his part, which began before their marriage. Clapton and Boyd divorced in 1989, following his affair with Italian model Lori Del Santo, who had given birth to a son, Conor, in August 1986. Boyd herself has never been able to conceive children, despite attempts at in vitro fertilization. Boyd and Clapton's divorce was granted on the grounds of "infidelity and unreasonable behavior."
Boyd claims that she was the inspiration for one of Harrison's Beatles songs, "Something," which Frank Sinatra said was, at the time, the best love song written in 50 years. Boyd stated that Harrison told her "Something" was written for her, but after they parted Harrison said he was thinking about a song for Ray Charles. Boyd also stated she was the inspiration for "Bell Bottom Blues," which Clapton reportedly wrote after he gave her a pair of blue jeans. In her autobiography, Boyd wrote that Clapton gave her a pair of jeans after returning from a trip to Miami. It appeared on the same album as "Layla," which took its name from a Persian tale of unrequited love that Clapton had received from a friend.
On 7 September 1976, Clapton wrote "Wonderful Tonight" for Boyd while waiting for her to get ready to attend Paul and Linda McCartney's annual Buddy Holly party. Of "Wonderful Tonight," Boyd would say: "For years it tore at me. To have inspired Eric, and George before him, to write such music was so flattering. 'Wonderful Tonight' was the most poignant reminder of all that was good in our relationship, and when things went wrong it was torture to hear it."
Photography and autobiography
An exhibition of photographs taken by Boyd during her days with Harrison and Clapton opened at the San Francisco Art Exchange on Valentine's Day 2005, titled, Through the Eye of a Muse. The exhibition also ran again in San Francisco in February 2006, and for six weeks in June and July of 2006, in London. It was also on display for a few weeks at the Morrison Hotel gallery in La Jolla, California, in 2008. Wonderful Today: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me, was published in England on 23 August 2007, by Hodder Headline Review and in the U.S. (as Wonderful Tonight) on 28 August 2007, by Harmony Books, includes her own photographs and was written with a £950,000 ($2.2 million) advance. It was co-written with journalist Penny Junor. In the United States, Boyd's book debuted at the top of the New York Times Best Seller list.