March 27, 1979: Eric Clapton Marries Pattie Boyd

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Pattie Boyd and Eric Clapton at their 1979 wedding

Your best friend has just told you he plans to marry your ex-wife. You A) Punch him in the jaw and tell him you never want to see him again, or B) Give him your blessing and attend the wedding?

If you’re most people, the first response is probably closer to what you’d want to do. But George Harrison wasn’t like most people.

The best friend in question was Eric Clapton, and the ex was Pattie Boyd. “I’d rather she was with him than some dope,” Harrison remarked when asked how he felt about the wedding, which took place on this date in 1979. It was not to be a happy marriage.

Related: George Harrison marries Pattie Boyd in 1966

Clapton and Harrison had been friends since the ’60s. Clapton had even played guitar on the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” After the group split, the two remained close—Clapton was a guest at the Harrison-assembled Concert for Bangladesh in 1971—but love was love and nothing was going to get in the way of it.

The lovestruck Eric Clapton sent this letter to Pattie Boyd while she was still married to George Harrison

Clapton had become obsessed with his friend’s wife. George and Pattie had met on the set of A Hard Day’s Night, in which she had a bit role. They married on January 21, 1966, but by the early ’70s the union was falling apart. She’d had affairs, including one with Faces’ Ron Wood, and George was no angel either—he’d even reportedly messed around with Ringo Starr’s wife, Maureen. With hard drugs and alcohol also increasingly prevalent in their lives, they agreed it was time to split in 1974 and they divorced three years later.

By that time, Clapton’s infatuation with Boyd had long since been off the charts. He’d written “Layla” about her all the way back in 1970, and his inability to land Boyd as his companion was supposedly one of the reasons the guitarist dove deep into heroin addiction.

Related: Clapton starts work on Layla LP, 1970

When she and Harrison began coming apart as a couple, Clapton made his love known to Boyd, and the two moved in together. In March 1979, they agreed to get married but, according to some reports, Clapton almost botched it by attempting to pay for the wedding license in British pounds, the problem being that he was in America at the time.

They were married in front of only 40 guests at Temple Bethel, in Tucson, Arizona, while Clapton was in the city for a concert. On May 19, the new couple held a party at Clapton’s English estate. Among the classic rock legends who reportedly attended were Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as Mick Jagger and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones, Clapton’s ex-Cream mates Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, plus Elton John, David Bowie and others. A jam session took place, but no one seems to remember exactly what songs were played or who grouped with whom (although it’s long been reported that the three ex-Beatles did jam).

Pattie applied for a divorce from Clapton in 1988.

Watch Clapton perform “Layla” at Madison Square Garden in 1999

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  1. Da Mick
    #1 Da Mick 28 March, 2022, 00:24

    Clapton has been notorious his whole life for not being able to stick with anything for very long. He was longing for something he couldn’t have. But when he received his life’s most fervent wish, but like his musical partnerships, his relationship lost its shine after it became the norm.

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