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Eric Clapton was a good friend of The Beatles, especially George Harrison. One person in George’s life also grew close to Eric, his wife Pattie Boyd, who eventually married Eric for a short while. Their relationship was tumultuous, but did Eric write his famous song Layla about Pattie?
It has been suggested one of Eric Clapton’s most famous songs, Layla, is about Pattie, as were many of the love songs he composed after meeting her.
However, Eric has himself spoken about the song, suggesting it is a little less personal.
Eric was given a book by Ian Dallas called The Story of Layla and Majnun, written by Nizami Ganjavi.
The 12th-century poem was based on an Arabian story from years before, where a young man fell hopelessly in love with a young girl, but could not marry her.
In his autobiography, Eric explained this was the genesis of the story, however, given his personal parallels with the story, it seems likely Pattie also had an influence.
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In his later life, Eric wrote Wonderful Tonight about Pattie, as well as other love songs.
According to Peter Doggett’s book You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup, Eric met Pattie in the late 1960s, when he had become friends with Harrison.
Mr Doggett suggests this is when Eric fell in love with Pattie, but in an attempt to focus on someone else, he took up with her sister, Paula.
However, he did continue to make advances towards Pattie, but she continuously refused as she was already in a relationship.
Speaking to Starts at 60, Pattie said: “It kind of blew me away, I was at the same time flattered but also horrified.
“I thought ‘Oh My God, what’s he doing, I’m married!’”
“It became difficult because George was so angry with the Beatles and he was behaving badly and Eric kept coming over.
“The whole thing was a mess and a muddle, the house was always full of people, it was a crazy time.”
According to Gary Tillery’s book Working Class Mystic: A Spiritual Biography of George Harrison, Eric made advances to Pattie in the early 1970s which she refused, which may have contributed to his spiral into drug addiction and self-imposed exile.
However, after Eric had been through rehabilitation, he pursued her again, at which point her marriage to George was ending.
Eventually, Pattie relented, and the pair married in 1979, only two years after her divorce from George.
There were still issues to come up, however, as Pattie spoke further about her hopes with Eric for children, which “wasn’t happening.”
She added: “It never occurred to me that it wouldn’t be possible. Then I was 30, 31 when [George] and I split up, and that’s not old.
“I just thought it would happen some time. Then it just didn’t.
“I realised a few years later when I was with Eric and still nothing was happening, and then I really tried and went to several doctors, and still nothing happened. I thought ‘I have to get my head around this’, it took a long time.”
According to Joshua Greene’s book, Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison, the couple remained friends with George, who even jokingly referred to Clapton as his ‘husband-in-law.’
Despite Eric’s efforts to make Pattie his bride, he was abusive and regularly cheated on his wife with various women, two of whom he ended up having children with.
In 1999, he admitted this abuse to the New York Post, saying: “There were times when I took sex with my wife by force and thought that was my entitlement.
“I had absolutely no concern for other people. Everyone used to walk around me on eggshells.
“They didn’t know if I was going to be angry or whatever.
“When I’d come back from the pub I could come back happy, or I could come back and smash the place up.”
His eldest daughter, Ruth, was born out of wedlock when he had an affair with studio manager Yvonne Phillips in 1985.
Yvonne was also married at the time, and their love child was kept secret for six years before it became known to the media.
As well as this affair, Eric also cheated on Pattie with Italian model Lory Del Santo, with whom he had a son, Conor, in 1986.
Pattie and Eric eventually divorced in 1989, and both subsequently remarried.
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