By Mahlia Lone
That rockstars have millions of groupies willing to do their bidding is a well known fact. But artists have sensitive souls, which yearn for the unattainable. This is what inspires them to reach inside themselves and create art that serves as a cathartic release for their pent up feelings. Sixties model and London It Girl Pattie Boyd was the love, muse and wife to two rock legends, George Harrison and Eric Clapton. She inspired them to write classic songs that we still listen to today. During his brief fling with her, Ronnie Woods too wrote a song about her. It wasn’t her beauty, her virtue or her intelligence that won them over and inspired them to create timeless art, it was the fact that they all wanted her and became competitive and relentless in their pursuit. The chase it seems is what really got them going because once each got her, after the initial euphoria, he lost interest and went back to the pursuit of hedonistic pleasures.
Eric Clapton had an unusual childhood. He was born in 1945 in Surrey to 16-year-old Patricia Clapton who had gotten knocked up by a Canadian soldier during the tail end of World War II. The soldier returned to Canada after the armistice without even meeting his newborn son. Clapton grew up believing that his grandparents were his real parents, and that his mother was his older sister.
When his mother got married to another Canadian soldier and moved with him to Germany, Eric stayed behind in England with his grandparents. They say that the patterns you follow in your future relationships are set in your childhood. Pining for his mother, hence, set the relationship dynamic that he would later follow in his love life.
For his thirteenth birthday, Clapton’s mother sent him an acoustic Hoyer guitar from Germany. He taught himself the instrument, practicing diligently and passionately by playing the guitar along to blues records. He would record his playing on a Grundig tape recorder and compare it to that of professional blues musicians. At the age of 16 in 1961, after finishing school, he started playing guitar in neighbourhood pubs. By 1967, Clapton was recognised as the country’s top blues guitarist.
George Harrison was from Liverpool like his other Beatles band mates. He was born in 1943 to a ship steward father and an Irish Catholic shop assistant mother. While pregnant with George, according to Harrison’s biographer Joshua Greene, “Every Sunday she tuned in to mystical sounds evoked by sitars and tablas (on the weekly broadcast of Radio India), hoping that the exotic music would bring peace and calm to the baby in the womb.”
The family was working class and lived in council housing. Pattie talked about how supportive George’s mother was to him growing up, “All she wanted for her children is that they should be happy, and she recognized that nothing made George quite as happy as making music.” In 1956, his father bought him a Dutch Egmond flat top acoustic guitar, costing only £3.10 (equivalent to £100 in today’s value terms) on which the young lad learnt to play.
In 19, the four teenagers, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe (who died in 1962 of a brain aneurysm) formed The Beatles and played gigs in Liverpool and Hamburg clubs. After Ringo Starr joined them as drummer in 1962, they recorded their first UK hit Love Me Do. Beatlemania took off from there.
Patricia Boyd was born in1944, in Somerset. Her family moved to London when she was a teenager and she got a job working as a shampoo girl in Elizabeth Arden’s salon. A client from the fashion industry spotted her and offered her a modeling job that launched her career. She worked the model circuit of fashion weeks in London, New York, and Paris and became a highly sought after top model. Pattie graced the covers of Vogue UK and Italy and was shot by top photographers David Bailey and Terence Donovan, in addition to appearing in TV commercials.
In 1964, The Beatles took America by storm when they appeared on the hugely popular The Ed Sullivan Show, and attracted a record audience of 73 million. They were mobbed by hysterical girls everywhere they went. They had conquered America.
Back in London, Richard Lester was making a movie on the band titled A Hard Day’s Night. Pattie’s agent managed to get her a tiny part in it as a school girl fan. Her only dialogue in the film was: “Prisoners?” But the film changed her life. As soon as she came on set and met Harrison, there was instantaneous mutual chemistry.
Pattie recalled that he was incredibly good looking but rather shy. He spontaneously asked her, “Will you marry me? Well, if you won’t marry me, will you have dinner with me tonight?”
“On first impressions, John seemed more cynical and brash than the others, Ringo the most endearing Paul was cute and George, with velvet-brown eyes and dark chestnut hair, was the best looking man I had ever seen. At a break for lunch I found myself sitting next to him. Being close to him was electrifying,” she said.
Pattie had been in a serious two year relationship with self taught experimental photographer Eric Swayne at the time and, thus, refused Harrison’s invitation. She was booked for another day’s shooting after a few days and this time she came on set having broken up with Swayne who was rather cut up about it since he had been hoping to marry her. When Harrison repeated his invitation to her, she agreed. The couple went to the prestigious Garrick Club, accompanied by the Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein. “I was 21, he was 22. I was so happy and so much in love. I thought we would be together and happy forever,” she reminisced.
On the arm of a Beatle, the blonde fashion model soon became an It Girl. After two years of dating, Harrison and Pattie married in 1966 with Paul McCartney as their best man.
For a while, they were blissfully happy. His love for his beautiful young wife inspired Harrison to write the song Something in 1968 for The Beatles’ Abbey Road album. In his autobiography, I, Me Mine, he wrote he worked on the melody on a piano at London’s Abbey Road Studios. It became the only song written by him to top the US Billboards Top 100 chart before the band’s break up in April 1970.
“He told me, in a matter-of-fact way, that he had written it (the song) for me. I thought it was beautiful,” wrote Pattie in her autobiography. The song had 150 different cover versions including one by Frank Sinatra who thought that it was the best love song ever written. “My favourite was the one by George Harrison, which he played to me in the kitchen at Kinfauns (their home in Esher, Surrey),” she added, while Harrison preferred James Brown’s, a copy of which he kept at home on his personal jukebox.
Clapton and Harrison became close friends in the ‘60s with Eric often dropping by their Surrey home for impromptu jam sessions, music collaborations and even casually for a chat and a meal together. In this relaxed atmosphere, Clapton started to develop a crush on his friend’s wife that burgeoned into a full blown obsession.
“But, in fact, by then our (marital) relationship was in trouble,” recalled Pattie. By the mid-1960s, Harrison was turning increasingly towards Hinduism after experimenting with LSD. In 1966, he travelled to India with Pattie to study sitar with Ravi Shankar. There he made pilgrimages to various mandirs and met several gurus. In 1968, upon Harrison’s suggestion The Beatles travelled to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh, Dheradhun in the Himalayan foothills beside the Ganges River to study yoga and meditation. George’s love for Hinduism and meditation was propelled by his trippy LSD experiences. Harrison said, “For me, it was like a flash. The first time I had acid, it just opened up something in my head that was inside of me, and I realized a lot of things. I didn’t learn them because I already knew them, but that happened to be the key that opened the door to reveal them. From the moment I had that, I wanted to have it all the time – these thoughts about the yogis and the Himalayas, and Ravi’s music.”
“George had become obsessive about meditation, pointed out Pattie. “He was also sometimes withdrawn and depressed. My moods started to mirror his and at times I felt almost suicidal. I don’t think I was ever in any real danger of killing myself but I got as far as working out how I would do it: put on a diaphanous Ossie Clark dress and throw myself off Beachy Head.
And there were other women, which really hurt me. George was fascinated by the god Krishna who was always surrounded by young maidens. He came back from India wanting to be some kind of Krishna figure, a spiritual being with lots of concubines. He actually said so.
No woman was out of bounds. I was friendly with a French girl who was going out with Eric Clapton. When she and Eric broke up, she came to stay with us at our house, Kinfauns, in Esher, Surrey.
She didn’t seem remotely upset about Eric and was uncomfortably close to George. Something was going on between them but when I questioned George he told me my imagination was running away with me, that I was paranoid.
I left to stay with friends and within days George phoned to say the girl had gone. I returned home but I was shocked that he could do such a thing to me. I felt unloved and miserable.”
Pattie talked about how present and future husbands became closer. “Eric and George had become close friends, writing and recording music together.
Eric’s guitar playing was held in awe by his fellow musicians. Graffiti declaring ‘Clapton is God’ had been scrawled on the London Underground, and he was an incredibly exciting performer to watch. He looked wonderful on stage, very sexy.
But when I met him he didn’t behave like a rock star – he was surprisingly shy and reticent. I was aware that Eric found me attractive and I enjoyed the attention he paid me.
Something in the way she moves
Attracts me like no other lover
Something in the way she woos me
I don’t want to leave her now
You know I believe and how
Somewhere in her smile she knows
That I don’t need no other lover
Something in her style that shows me
Don’t want to leave her now
You know I believe and how
You’re asking me will my love grow
I don’t know, I don’t know
You stick around now it may show
I don’t know, I don’t know
George Harrison, The Beatles
It was hard not to be flattered when I caught him staring at me or when he chose to sit beside me. He complimented me on what I was wearing and the food I had cooked, and he said things he knew would make me laugh. Those were all things that George no longer did.”
During the time Clapton was continuously hitting on his wife, Harrison was self involved. A hard core Hare Krishna devotee by the late ‘60s, he even became a strict vegetarian at a time when vegan, gluten free, etc diets were not the norm in mainstream western societies. In 1969, he produced the Hare Krishna Mantra as performed by members of the London Radha Krishna Temple. He described their leader A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada “my friend … my master” and “a perfect example of everything he preached.” The good looking pop star turned into a Hare Krishna devotee wearing beads and chanting.
Music wise, in 1968, Harrison came out with his debut solo album Wonderwall Music, the first of many Harrison solo records with Clapton on guitar. However, due to contractual restraints, Clapton wasn’t credited for his work on the albums.
While her husband was committed to finding himself and a meaning for his life as well as establishing himself as a solo artist, the wife, committed to her marriage, was busy rebuffing Clapton’s advances.
It’s interesting that Harrison had turned for comfort to the same music his mother had listened to soothe the fetus in her womb and Clapton had reverted to his childhood dynamic of pining for his mother married to his stepfather and unavailable to him.
Yearning for an unavailable married woman, Clapton did the next best thing by hooking up with Pattie’s teenage sister. Pattie described their meeting: “One night in December 1969, I took my 17-year-old sister Paula to see Eric play in Liverpool. Paula was very pretty and a bit of a wild child, and that night Eric fell for her. After the show we all went to a restaurant and everyone was quite drunk and raucous. When the rest of us went back to the hotel, we left Eric and Paula dancing.
The next night Eric was playing in Croydon and again Paula and I went to watch, and again there was a wild after-show party, this time at Eric’s Italianate manor house, Hurtwood Edge in Ewhurst, Surrey. Soon after, Paula moved in with Eric.”
Not interested in cultivating a rockstar status, but wanting to be taken as a serious musician, Clapton formed Derek and the Dominos. Desperate in his love for Pattie, he wrote Layla, soulfully singing about his deep feelings and unrequited love for her on their 1970 album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. The song was inspired by the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi’s The Story of Layla and Majnun, the tragic tale of a young man who fell hopelessly in love with a beautiful, unavailable woman and who went crazy because he could not marry her.
When Paula heard him working on the song in Miami, she realized it was about Pattie and that Clapton was still too hung up about her sister. Finally understanding that to him she would always be second best, Paula left Eric. Pattie said about her younger sister, “She had been seriously in love with Eric, but he destroyed her pride, her self-esteem and her confidence, which were already fragile.”
Pattie described in depth the day Clapton made her listen to the ballad for the first time. “We met secretly at a flat in South Kensington. Eric Clapton had asked me to come because he wanted me to listen to a new number he had written. He switched on the tape machine, turned up the volume and played me the most powerful, moving song I had ever heard. It was Layla, about a man who falls hopelessly in love with a woman who loves him but is unavailable.
He played it to me two or three times, all the while watching my face intently for my reaction. My first thought was: ‘Oh God, everyone’s going to know this is about me.’
Eric had been making his desire for me clear for months. I felt uncomfortable that he was pushing me in a direction in which I wasn’t certain I wanted to go.
But with the realisation that I had inspired such passion and creativity, the song got the better of me. I could resist no longer.
That evening I was going to the theatre to see Oh! Calcutta! with a friend and then on to a party at the home of pop impresario Robert Stigwood. George didn’t want to go to the show or the party.
After the interval at Oh!Calcutta! I came back to find Eric in the next seat, having persuaded a stranger to swap places with him. Afterwards we went to Robert’s house separately but we were soon together. It was a great party and I felt elated by what had happened earlier in the day but also deeply guilty.
During the early hours, George appeared. He was morose and his mood was not improved by walking into a party that had been going on for several hours and where most of the guests were high on drugs.
He kept asking ‘Where’s Pattie?’ but no one seemed to know. He was about to leave when he spotted me in the garden with Eric. It was just getting light, and very misty. George came over and demanded: ‘What’s going on?’
To my horror, Eric said: ‘I have to tell you, man that I’m in love with your wife.’
I wanted to die. George was furious. He turned to me and said: ‘Well, are you going with him or coming with me?’
Clapton wasn’t satisfied with just bedding Pattie but was desperate to marry her and make her his wife. Pattie faced with the choice of her husband or her lover chose to stay in her marriage and left with George. But after this public episode, Harrison became open in the pursuit of other women.
But while Clapton was shacked with the younger sister, he didn’t let up on his pursuit of the older sister. “In March 1970, George and I moved into a new house,” wrote Pattie. “Friar Park was a magnificent Victorian Gothic pile near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, with 25 bedrooms, a ballroom, a library, a formal garden of 12 acres and a further 20 acres of land.
One morning shortly after moving in, a letter arrived for me with the words ‘express’ and ‘urgent’ written on the envelope. Inside I found a small piece of paper. In small, immaculate writing, with no capital letters, I read:
‘dearest l,’as you have probably gathered, my own home affairs are a galloping farce, which is rapidly degenerating day by intolerable day . . . it seems like an eternity since i last saw or
spoke to you!’
(He needed to ascertain my feelings: if I still loved my husband or did I
have another lover? More crucially, did I still have feelings in my heart for him? He had to know, and urged me to write.)
The lyrics to this haunting song are:
“What’ll you do when you get lonely
And nobody’s waiting by your side?
You’ve been running and hiding much too long.
You know it’s just your foolish pride.
Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.
Layla, I’m begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.
I tried to give you consolation
When your old man had let you down.
Like a fool, I fell in love with you,
Turned my whole world upside down.
Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.
Layla, I’m begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.
Let’s make the best of the situation
Before I finally go insane.
Please don’t say I’ll never find a way
And tell me all my love’s in vain.”
Eric Clapton, Derek and the Dominos
‘please do this, whatever it may say, my mind will be at rest . . .’all my love, e.’
I assumed it was from some weirdo.
I got fan mail occasionally – when I wasn’t getting hate mail from George’s fans. I showed it to George and others who were at the house. They laughed and dismissed it, as I had.
That evening the phone rang. It was Eric. ‘Did you get my letter?’ he asked.
‘Letter?’ I said. ‘I don’t think so. What letter are you talking about?’
Then the penny dropped. ‘Was that from you? I had no idea you felt that way.’ It was the most passionate letter anyone had ever written to me and it put our relationship on a different footing. It made the flirtation all the more exciting and dangerous. But as far as I was concerned, it was just flirtation.
From time to time during the spring and summer of 1970, Eric and I saw each other. One day, walking down Oxford Street, he asked: ‘Do you like me, then, or are you seeing me because I’m famous?’
‘Oh, I thought you were seeing me because I’m famous,’ I said. We laughed.
He always found it difficult to talk about his feelings, instead pouring them into his music and writing.
Once we met under the clock in Guildford High Street. He had just come back from Miami and had a pair of bell-bottom trousers for me – hence the track Bell Bottom Blues. He was tanned and looked gorgeous and irresistible – but I managed to resist him.
On another occasion I drove to Ewhurst and we met in the woods nearby. Eric was wearing a wolf coat and looked very sexy. We didn’t go to his house because someone would have been there. A lot of people lived at Hurtwood Edge: his band, the Dominos, Paula and Alice Ormsby-Gore, another of Eric’s girlfriends.
The convent girl in me found the situation uncomfortable but strangely exciting, and so it was later that year after Eric had played me Layla in the South Kensington flat that I succumbed to his advances.
After George and Eric’s confrontation at Robert Stigwood’s party, I went home with my husband. Back at the house I went to bed and George disappeared into his recording studio.
The next time I saw Eric, he turned up unexpectedly at Friar Park. George was away – I don’t know whether Eric knew that in advance – and I was on my own. He said he wanted me to go away with him: he was desperately in love with me and couldn’t live without me. I had to leave George right now and be with him.
‘Eric, are you mad?’ I asked. ‘I can’t possibly. I’m married to George.’
He said: ‘No, no, no. I love you. I have to have you in my life.’
‘No,’ I said.
He produced a small packet from his pocket and held it out towards me.
‘Well, if you’re not going to come away with me, I’m going to take this.’
‘What is it?’
‘Don’t be so stupid.’ I tried to grab it from him but he clenched his fist and hid it in his pocket.
‘If you’re not going to come with me,’ he said, ‘that’s it. I’m off.’
And he went. I hardly saw him for three years.
He did as he threatened. He took the heroin and quickly became addicted. And he took Alice Ormsby-Gore with him.
Eric already did a lot of drugs, the ones we all used – marijuana, uppers, downers and cocaine – and he drank quite heavily too. But his dealer had been insisting recently he bought heroin when he supplied him with cocaine,” she added. “He and Alice retreated into Hurtwood Edge and pulled up the drawbridge. He didn’t leave the house, he didn’t see friends, he didn’t answer the door or the telephone, and the two of them sank into virtual oblivion.”
Pattie didn’t see Clapton again for three years. He immersed himself in heroin, which he snorted like cocaine as he was afraid of needles, to block out his love for Pattie and intent on a self destructive binge.
Meanwhile, Pattie carried on with her domestic life. She recalled, “I turned my attention to my husband and to renovating Friar Park. For a brief period the project united us but the house was so enormous, and there were always so many people living in it, that we never had any intimacy. Most of the time, even when George was in the house, I didn’t know where he was. At meal times, too many other people were at the table for us to have any real conversation. And even though we shared a bed, he was often in his recording studio or meditating half the night in the octagonal room at the top of the house that had become his sanctuary.
I felt more and more alienated. I didn’t feel included in George’s thinking or his plans. I wasn’t his partner in anything any longer. He was surrounded by yes-men. When I challenged him about it he said: ‘Well I’d hate to be surrounded by no-men.’
I heard from Eric again in January 1971, two months after he had walked out vowing to take the heroin. He wrote to me from a cottage in Wales.
On the title page of a copy of Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men, he had written a love note signed with a heart. That one short note stirred up feelings I had spent two months suppressing. I wrote and told him what he wanted to hear.
As soon as I had posted the letter I had terrible doubts and immediately wrote a postcard. It simply said:
‘Hullo, Please forgive and forget my bold suggestion.’Love L’
His reply came by return of post on the dust jacket of a book of Scottish ballads and was written in green ink.
‘it was rather significant that i received both communications on the same morning. something like watching a boomerang in flight.’
He said he understood my situation and didn’t know what to recommend.
‘i love you even though you’re chicken.’
“Nothing came of our fantasies and I didn’t see or speak to him again until August 1971.”
The years apart proved that Clapton and Pattie shared more than a flirtation as she initially thought but a real connection. Moreover, her marriage with Harrison was allowed time to die its own death.
But even his rockstar friends were concerned about heroin’s hold on Clapton. They felt they needed to save the great musician from an early, untimely death. “George had persuaded him to come out of Hurtwood Edge briefly to perform at a charity event, Concert For Bangladesh, in New York,” she continued. “Eric was in a bad way but George thought that if he got him on stage, even propped up with drugs, his addiction would become an open secret and maybe he would open the door a little to his friends, who might be able to help….
That day he and I scarcely spoke. He was surrounded by people, then on stage, and he was very out of it; I’m not sure he really saw me. It was a shock to think that he had done this to himself because of me. At first I felt guilty, then my feelings would swing violently the other way and I was angry that he should have asked me to choose between him and my husband.
When the concert was over, Eric and Alice (his girlfriend at the time) went back to the horrors of their self-imposed prison at Hurtwood Edge. Pete Townshend of The Who was the only friend who refused to take no for an answer and went to the house so often that eventually Eric had to see him.
Pete persuaded him to perform at another charity concert, this time at Finsbury Park, North London.
The show in 1973, billed as Eric’s comeback, was a triumph. I was sitting in the audience with George, Ringo, Elton John, Joe Cocker and Jimmy Page. Eric didn’t look well – his addict’s diet of junk food and chocolate had made him put on weight.
As I heard the opening wail of Layla, the first number of the evening, then the lyrics, my blood ran cold. He might have been wrecked for the previous three years but he hadn’t forgotten how to tear at the heart-strings with his guitar.
All the emotion I had felt for him when he disappeared from my life welled up inside me.
The show reminded Eric there was an alternative to his life as an addict and eventually he agreed to accept treatment. He got off the heroin – and went straight on to alcohol.
He became a regular visitor to Friar Park and professed his love for me with increasing vigour. Letters arrived almost daily in which he pleaded with me to leave George and be with him.
Meanwhile, things between George and me were going from bad to worse.
I don’t know what his feelings were about Eric when he reappeared in our lives.
We had been so stoned on the night of Robert Stigwood’s party that he might have forgotten about the confrontation in the mist, but I don’t think so. George never spoke about it but after that night I think he felt he could be as blatant as he liked in his pursuit of other women.
In spring 1973, we were supposed to go on holiday together. The day before we were due to leave, George said he wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t go. He ended up going to Spain, supposedly to see Salvador Dali, with Ronnie Wood’s wife, Krissie.
Ronnie, then bass guitarist with The Faces, and Krissie were friends of ours who often came to stay at Friar Park. I was desperately hurt: another of my friends was sleeping with George.
When I challenged him he denied it.
I went to the Bahamas instead with my sister Paula, who was battling her own heroin addiction. While there we had a call from Ronnie Wood. He was on tour and said he might come to see us for a few days. He didn’t seem upset that his wife was with George – he just thought it was funny they had gone to see Dali.
Ronnie is the most adorable man, and maybe at that moment some fun, laughter and a pair of comforting arms were what I needed.”
Ronnie Wood, who joined The Rolling Stones as guitarist in 1975, and George Harrison had a “sort of a warped rockstar wife swap” that they later publicly joked about. Ronnie hooked up with Pattie and George with Ronnie’s wife Krissie Findley, as the two musicians collaborated on Ronnie’s solo LP, I’ve Got My Own Album to Do, in 1974. In fact, Ronnie’s song Mystifies Me while he was still a member of the band Faces, and released a year before he joined The Rolling Stones is about Pattie. It goes, “You look so fine and true/no one mystifies me like you do.”
To make it even more incestuous, Wood wrote in his autobiography that he had actually “pinched” Findley from Eric Clapton, and knew very well that Clapton was in love with Pattie when he hooked up with her.
Stay a while and work it out of me
We got time and we can cast it true
Just give me a sign, I’ll take your word
I’ll learn anything you want me to
That is all I’m looking to you for
All I’m asking that you simply do
Take it leave it, make things matter
Yeah take all my breath away
Take it all apart and put it back
I am always left there looking at you
You look so fine and true
no one mystifies me like you do
you look so fine and true
no one mystifies me like you do
I would not lie to you
Let me see ya, let me know your dreams
Won’t you please give me a sign?
Faced with these unfolding events, Harrison wrote the track So Sad for his 1974 album Dark Horse about his marital problems.
Pattie said about the demise of her marriage with Harrison, “The final straw for George and me was his affair with Ringo’s wife, Maureen. She was the last person I would have expected to stab me in the back. I discovered from some photos that she had been staying in the house with George while I had visited my mother in Devon. He had given her a beautiful necklace, which she wore in front of me.
Then I found them locked in a bedroom at Friar Park. I stood outside banging on the door yelling: ‘What are you doing? Maureen’s in there, isn’t she? I know she is!’ George just laughed.
Eventually he opened the door and said: ‘Oh, she’s just a bit tired so she’s lying down.’
I went straight to the top of the house and lowered the flag bearing the om symbol that George had been flying from the roof and hoisted skull and crossbones instead. That made me feel much better.
Maureen wasn’t even prepared to be subtle. She would turn up at Friar Park at midnight and I would say: ‘What the hell are you doing here?’
The final showdown: “Harrison handed Clapton a guitar and amp—as an 18th Century gentleman might have handed his rival a sword — and for two hours, without a word, they dueled. The air was electric and the music exciting,” Pattie remembered the climax.
Guess who won?
I’ve come to listen to George playing in the studio.’
‘Well, I’m going to bed.’
‘Ah, well, I’m going to the studio.’
The next morning, she’d still be there, and I’d say: ‘Have you thought about your children? What are you up to? I don’t like it.’
‘Tough,’ was her response.
Ringo didn’t have a clue what was going on until I rang him one day and said: ‘Have you ever thought about why your wife doesn’t come home at night? It’s because she’s here!’ He flew into a rage.
George continued to pretend that nothing was going on and would leave me feeling as though I was becoming paranoid.
I felt undermined and unloved and George was so terribly difficult to talk to. He had become worse in the last year, maybe because Eric kept coming around and making it obvious that he wanted to see me. George must have sensed we were having an affair but he never said so.
One evening the actor John Hurt was with us. Eric was due to come over too and George decided to have it out with him. John wanted to make himself scarce but George insisted he stay.
Pattie & Eric Together At The Funeral Of The Who Drummer, Keith Moon, In 1978John remembers George coming downstairs with two guitars and two small amplifiers, laying them down in the hall, then pacing restlessly until Eric arrived – full of brandy, as usual.
As Eric walked through the door George handed him a guitar and amp – as an 18th Century gentleman might have handed his rival a sword – and for two hours, without a word, they dueled. The air was electric and the music exciting.
At the end, nothing was said but the general feeling was that Eric had won. He hadn’t allowed himself to get riled or to go in for instrumental gymnastics as George had. Even when he was drunk, his guitar-playing was unbeatable.
That whole period was insane. Friar Park was a madhouse. Our lives were fuelled by alcohol and cocaine, and so it was with everyone who came into our sphere. We were all as drunk, stoned and single-minded as each other. Nobody seemed to have appointments, deadlines or anything pressing in their lives, no structure and no responsibilities.
Cocaine is a seductive drug because it makes you feel euphoric and good about yourself. It takes away your inhibitions and makes even the shyest, most insecure person feel confident.
And we had so much energy – everyone would talk nonsense for twice as long and drink twice as much because the cocaine made us feel sober. George used cocaine excessively and I think it changed him. I think cocaine froze George’s emotions and hardened his heart.
On New Year’s Eve in 1973, Ringo held a party at his home. George went ahead of me and when I arrived he said: ‘Let’s have a divorce this year.’
In 1974, George told Ringo that he was in love with his wife. Ringo worked himself up into a terrible state and went about saying: ‘Nothing is real, nothing is real.’
I was furious. I went straight out and dyed my hair red.
In June that year, I returned home one evening to find Eric, Pete Townshend and Graham Bell, another musician, larking around at our house.
I made them dinner, which we ate amid forced jollity, then Eric took me aside and pleaded with me again to leave George. We were alone together for what felt like hours, and he was so passionate, desperate and compelling that I felt swamped, lost and confused.” That year as Clapton kicked his dependence on heroin, Pattie finally left Harrison and with his knowledge and consent ran into Clapton’s arms.
“I had to make a choice. Would I go to Eric, who had written the most beautiful song for me, who had been to hell and back in the last three years because of me and who had worn me down with his protestations of love?
Or would I choose George, my husband, whom I had loved but who had been cold and indifferent towards me for so long that I could barely remember the last time he’d shown me any affection or told me he loved me?
That night Eric left and went off almost immediately to America on tour. On July 3 I told George I was leaving him. It was late at night and I went into the studio and explained that we were leading a ludicrous and hateful life, and that I was going to America. When he came to bed, I could feel his sadness as he lay beside me. ‘Don’t go,’ he said.
Half of me wanted to stay and to believe him when he said he would make it better, but I was at the end of my tether.The next day, with a great sadness in my heart, I packed some things, said a tearful goodbye to Friar Park and flew to America. What I had felt for George was a great, deep love. What Eric and I had was an intoxicating, overpowering passion.
It’s late in the evening; she’s wondering what clothes to wear
She puts on her make-up and brushes her long blonde hair
And then she asks me, Do I look all right?
And I say, ‘Yes, you look wonderful tonight
We go to a party and everyone turns to see
This beautiful lady that’s walking around with me
And then she asks me, Do you feel all right?
And I say, “Yes, I feel wonderful tonight.’
I feel wonderful because I see
The love light in your eyes
And the wonder of it all
Is that you just don’t realize how much I love you
It’s time to go home now and I’ve got an aching head
So I give her the car keys and she helps me to bed
And then I tell her, as I turn out the light
I say, ‘My darling, you were wonderful tonight
Oh my darling, you were wonderful tonight.”
It was so intense, so urgent, so heady, I felt almost out of control. Having made the decision to leave my marriage, I knew I had to be with him, go everywhere with him, do everything he did, keep up with him in every way. Which, on that tour of America in 1974, meant drinking.”
She later said that she had felt “neglected” by Harrison when she left him after eight years of marriage