Have you ever wondered about the pretty faces who inspired some of the most heart-wrenching classics? Feed your curiosity and read about some of rock music's loveliest muses in this mini-series, starting off with English model Pattie Boyd.
English model Patricia Anne “Pattie” Boyd is remembered by many not only as a fashion icon and “the face of the 60’s,” but also for being the inspiration behind some of the most memorable rock songs in history. She was among the prettiest muses of the music world, inspiring two rock legends, The Beatles guitarist George Harrison and English singer-songwriter Eric Clapton—both of whom she got romantically involved and eventually married.
Boyd was around twenty years old at the time she met Harrison in 1964, when she scored a minor role for A Hard Day’s Night, a film which starred The Beatles. Although she thought the quiet Beatle was the most beautiful man she had ever seen, Boyd declined Harrison’s first invitation for a date as she was already “semi-engaged” to her boyfriend at the time. Harrison reportedly even asked her, “Will you marry me?”, to which she simply laughed.
Some days later, Boyd was called again to work on the film. Having ended her relationship with her boyfriend, she finally accepted another invitation to go out with Harrison. After dating for almost two years, Harrison proposed marriage to Boyd in December 1965, but had to ask Brian Epstein, manager of the Beatles, if any tours were scheduled in the coming days. They were married on January 21, 1966, with Paul McCartney as the Best Man and Epstein in attendance (and also sharing Best Man duties with McCartney). The other two Beatles, John Lennon and Ringo Starr, did not attend as they went on holiday with their wives to distract the journalists and prevent them from learning about the wedding.
According to Boyd, Harrison wrote and dedicated to her one of his songs, entitled “Something,” which Frank Sinatra found to be the best love song written in 50 years. However, when they parted ways, Harrison said he was thinking of a song for singer Ray Charles at the time it was created.
Let’s listen to “Something” below:
Eric Clapton and Harrison became close friends during the late 1960s, and started making music together. It was around this time that Clapton reportedly fell in love with Boyd, and also with her younger sister, Paula, who moved in with him. Clapton repeatedly pleaded Boyd to leave Harrison for him, which drove him to write the pained love song “Layla” for her. Boyd’s sister Paula left Clapton upon hearing his song “Layla,” which gave her the message that the singer had been using her as a substitute for her sister.
Despite his fervent pleas, Boyd avoided his advances, causing the singer-guitarist to spiral down into heroin addiction. He even went as far as going into a three-year, self-imposed exile with Alice Ormsby-Gore, with whom he became engaged to but never married.
With her marriage to Harrison strained by many factors, Boyd eventually gave in; she divorced Harrison in June 1974 and married Clapton in 1979. Aside from “Layla,” Clapton also wrote “Bell Bottom Blues” and “Wonderful Tonight” for Boyd. However, their marriage was also an unhappy one due to Clapton’s numerous affairs and alcoholism. The two divorced in 1989 after the singer began yet another affair with Italian model Lory Del Santo.
Let’s listen to “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight” below:
What do you think of the lady who inspired the three notable love songs above? Share your insights on Pattie Boyd with us through a comment below!