pattie clapton

Dear Layla, 

 For nothing more than the pleasures past I would sacrifice my family, my god, and my own existence, and still you will not move. I am at the end of my mind, I cannot go back and there is nothing in tomorrow (save you) that can attract me beyond today. I have listened to the wind, I have watched the dark brooding clouds, I have felt the earth beneath me for a sign, a gesture, but there is only silence. Why do you hesitate, am I a poor lover, am I ugly, am I too weak, too strong, do you know why? If you want me, take me, I am yours…. If you don’t want me, please break the spell that binds me. To cage a wild animal is a sin, to tame him is divine.

My love is yours. 

 Eric Clapton’s letter to Pattie Boyd [x]

I heard from Eric [Clapton] again in January 1971. 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:

Dear Layla,

For nothing more than the pleasures past I would sacrifice my family, my god, and my own existence, and still you will not move. I am at the end of my mind, I cannot go back and there is nothing in tomorrow (save you) that can attract me beyond today. I have listened to the wind, I have watched the dark brooding clouds, I have felt the earth beneath me for a sign, a gesture, but there is only silence. Why do you hesitate, am I a poor lover, am I ugly, am I too weak, too strong, do you know why? If you want me, take me, I am yours …

If you don’t want me, please break the spell that binds me. To cage a wild animal is a sin, to tame him is divine. My love is yours.
—  Pattie Boyd
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Richard Manuel, Dr. John, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Pattie Boyd, a smiling Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Rick Danko backstage at the Winterland during The Last Waltz in ‘76.
These photos were taken by Ringo’s then girlfriend, Nancy Lee Andrews, with her SX-70 Polaroid camera. Thank god she did! Not many backstage pics out there of this historical music event.

George Harrison in New York City, 30 October 1970; photographed by Tim Boxer.

“In July [1970], after a long struggle with illness, George’s mother - who had stood alone among the The Beatle parents as an active champion of their talents - died in Liverpool, and the sessions were put on hold. To complicate matters yet further, Clapton was obsessing over Pattie [Boyd].” - Mojo, July 2001 [x]

“When I was making All Things Must Pass in 1970, not only did I have Phil Spector going to the hospital and all this trouble, besides organizing the Trident Studios schedule in London with Derek & the Dominos - who many forget got their start on that record - but also my mother got really ill. I was going all the way up and down England to Liverpool trying to see her in the hospital. Bad time. She’d got a tumor on the brain, but the doctor was an idot and he was saying, ‘There’s nothing wrong with her, she’s having some psychological trouble.’ When I went to see her she didn’t even know who I was. [voice stiffing with anger] I had to punch the doctor out, ‘cause in England the family doctor has to be the one to get the specialist. So he got the guy to look at her and she ended up in the neurological hospital. The specialist said, ‘She could end up being a vegetable, but if it was my wife or my mother I’d do the operation’ - which was a horrendous thing where they had to drill a hole in her skull. She recovered a little bit for about seven months. And during that period my father, who’d taken care of her, had suddenly exploded with ulcers and he was in the same hospital. So I was pretending to both of them that the other one was okay. Then, running back and forth to do this record, I wrote that song. I made it up at home one exhausted morning with those major and minor chords. It’s filled with that frustration of going in these hospitals, and the feeling of disease - as the word’s meaning truly is - that permeated the atmosphere. Not being able to do anything for suffering family or loved ones is an awful experience.” - Musician, November 1987 [x]

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“And there were other women. That really hurt. In India George had become fascinated by the god Krishna, who was always surrounded by young maidens, and came back wanting to be some kind of Krishna figure, a spiritual being with lots of concubines. He actually said so. And no woman was out of bounds. I was friendly with a French girl who was going out with Eric Clapton. She was always flirtatious with George, but so were a lot of girls and he, of course, loved it. Then she and Eric broke up – Eric told her to leave – and she came to stay with us at Kinfauns.

It was 1 January 1969, and George and I had seen in the new year at Cilla Black’s house. She was an old friend of the Beatles, one of the originals from Liverpool, and gave fantastic parties. We arrived home in good spirits but then everything went swiftly downhill. The French girl didn’t seem remotely upset about Eric and was uncomfortably close to George. Something was going on between them, and I questioned George. He told me my imagination was running away with me, I was paranoid.

Soon I couldn’t stand it so I went to London to stay with Belinda and Jean-Claude. Six days later George phoned me to say that the girl had gone and I went home.

I was shocked that George could do such a thing to me. It might have been different if I had been a stronger, more confident person: I might have guessed that, with his infidelity, he was just being a boy and would get over it, that it didn’t mean he didn’t love me, but my ego was too fragile and I couldn’t see it as anything other than betrayal. I felt unloved and miserable.”

Top photo: Eric Clapton and Charlotte Martin
Bottom photo: Pattie visiting George during the Let It Be sessions, January, 1969

Pattie remembers the heartache she felt the first time George cheated on her….but he needed her, so she went back…

One night, unusually, Eric and I were going out, but I couldn’t decide what to wear. I was taking a very long time to do my makeup and hair, putting on one dress, then another and another, throwing them all into a pile on the floor. Poor Eric had been ready for hours and was waiting patiently. He was so sweet—at least, in the early days. The worst he would say if I annoyed him was, “You’re a silly clown.”

While he waited for me he was in the sitting room, fiddling with his guitar. He went through phases in listening to music and at that time he liked a country singer called Don Williams. We talked about how beautifully simple his lyrics were, each song telling a story about everyday happenings. Eric had been thinking of writing something similar and had already worked on some music for it. Suddenly, as I was flinging dresses on and off, inspiration struck. When I finally got downstairs and asked the inevitable question, “Do I look all right?” he played me what he’d written:

“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.”
—  Pattie Boyd, Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me (2007)

“Much later in the evening, 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 most of the people there were out of it. He didn’t want to speak to anyone, just to find me. 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 early morning, just getting light, and very misty. He came over to us and said, ‘What’s going on?’

To my complete 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?’

And I said, ‘George, I’m coming home.’

I followed him to his car, we got into it and he sped off. When we got home I went to bed and he disappeared into his recording studio.”

Pattie remembers but doesn’t tell us about that car ride home with George….

Standing at the side of the stage night after night, amplifiers booming, lights up, music exploding in my head and vibrating through every part of me, was an incredible sensation—deeply sexy. For the first time I understood what a high musicians get when they’re in front of a stadium full of fans, adrenaline pumping. And looking out at the thousands of screaming, waving, swooning people who had come to see Eric, my Eric, and seeing their reaction every time he played the opening chords of the song he had written for me was mindblowing. They went mad. At the end when the band left the stage and everyone was calling for an encore, the audience would hold up candles or lighters, and watching twenty thousand flames sent shivers down my spine.
—  Pattie Boyd, Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me (2007)