August 27, 2007
How to seduce your best friend's wife
There are already thousands of Beatles biographies out there, and all of them recount how George Harrison's wife Pattie Boyd left him for Eric Clapton after he hounded her for years, and they both wrote all kinds of songs about her, including the beautiful and tender "Something", the classic rock standby "Layla", and maybe the worst song ever written "Wonderful Tonight".
So now Pattie Boyd has a new autobiography. She decided to go with Wonderful Tonight for the title, so that the world would never forget that this treacly piece of prom theme garbage that Eric Clapton insists on singing with his eyes closed is about her. Poor lady.
Janet Maslin reviewed it for the Times. She exhibits some kind restraint, but still notes some of Boyd and her collaborator Penny Junor's more vapid observations: "This book includes perhaps the least useful account of the much-described 1968 all-star idyll in India: 'If it was anyone’s birthday, and there was a surprising number while we were there, including George’s 25th and my 24th, there would be cake and a party.' "
But what makes my heart go out to Boyd is her account of Eric Clapton stalking her for 7 years until she finally divorced George Harrison and married him. The guy sent her anonymous letters like this--"for nothing more than the pleasures past i would sacrifice my family, my god, and my own existence, and still you will not move", started dating her 17 year-old sister, then wrote "Layla" for Pattie in 1970 and played it for everybody telling them it was about her, and then actually threatened to start using heroin if she didn't leave George for him.
She didn't, but the determined Eric Clapton started doing heroin anyway. By the time Pattie finally left George for him in 1977 he had become a big junkie, then in kicking that, transitioned seamlessly into raging alcoholism. "It was as though the excitement had been in the chase," Boyd realizes, and she eventually ended what sounded like a completely awful marriage in which he drank two bottles of brandy a day and impregnated other women all over the place and wrote songs like "Wonderful Tonight".
She sounds like she's doing OK now.
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