Inside rock's greatest love triangle: Model Pattie Boyd lifts lid on leaving George Harrison for Eric Clapton

26 February 2024, 14:15

George Harrison with Pattie Boyd (l) and Eric Clapton (r)
George Harrison with Pattie Boyd (l) and Eric Clapton (r). Picture: Alamy

By StephenRigley

Model Pattie Boyd is selling letters that lift the lid on her notorious love triangle with guitarist Eric Clapton and Beatles star George Harrison.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The 1960s model and muse, who was the inspiration for both musicians, said she has Clapton's permission for the auction of the love letters and find them "heartbreaking" to read now.

She was the inspiration behind two of rock music's most famous songs - Harrison's Beatles classic, Something, and Clapton's Wonderful Tonight and Layla.

Boyd, now 79, the daughter of a retired RAF bomber pilot, married Harrison in 1966 but it lasted just under 10 years.

Patti Boyd
Patti Boyd. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Get Back: Paul McCartney reunited with bass he played on string of Beatles hits, 52 years after it was stolen

Read More: The Beatles to release emotional final song – after AI brings John Lennon and George Harrison back to life

The earliest letter, written by Clapton, is dated 1970 when Boyd was still married to Harrison. It asks if she still loves her husband and asks if she has another lover.

He goes on to acknowledge that his words are "impertinent" but adds: "If there is still a feeling in your heart for me, you must let me know."

At first, she mistook it as a letter from a fan, as it was signed only with "all my love, E".

A second letter was written several months later, on a page Clapton had torn from a copy of John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men.

"Dear Layla," Clapton began, using his nickname for Boyd. "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."

He later wrote the rock standard Lalya for Boyd. "It was so beautiful and so magical," Boyd recalled. "I was so flattered, but I was also so worried that George would work out why Eric had written this song."

Boyd originally rebuffed Clapton's advances but, after her marriage faltered in the early 1970s, the musician invited Boyd to join him on tour.

Their romance flourished and they married in 1979 - with the blessing of Harrison, who took to calling Clapton his "husband-in-law".

Ultimately, however, Clapton's alcoholism and infidelity undermined the marriage, and they divorced in 1989.

She will sell her memorabilia including letters, paintings, photographs, jewellery and fashion next month.

The lots include a doodle by Harrison, in which he drew himself sitting beneath an apple tree, and a Christmas card he made for her in 1968.

One of the letters up for auction
One of the letters up for auction. Picture: Christies/Patti Boyd

"I've had them all for so many years - far too long," Boyd, who turns 80 this year, told The Telegraph. "I thought, why don't I just sell everything and let everybody else enjoy it?"

The sale will be led by the the painting La jeune fille au bouquet by Emile Théodore Frandsen de Schomberg - which served as the cover for the 1970 album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs by Clapton's band Derek and the Dominoes.

Clapton had originally bought the painting from the artist's son because the model's blonde hair and alluring almond eyes reminded him of Boyd. It is expected to sell for between £40,000 and £60,000.

Boyd told the Telegraph she sought Clapton's permission before selling the possessions.

"He asked if I was selling the Layla painting, and I said yes," she said. "He said, 'Maybe there are other things you could sell as well.' So he's absolutely fine with me auctioning everything."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Israeli's military have fought off a massive Iranian drone and missile attack - downing more than 200 weapons launched by the hostile state with the help of ace RAF pilots.

Israel fights off massive Iran attack - downing over 200 missiles and drones with help of RAF

Plans have been drawn up for an evacuation of Brits from the Middle East. Defence Secretary Grant Shapps (l) and protesters outside the British Embassy in Tehran (r)

Brits living in the Middle East could be rescued by the Royal Marines in 'Dunkirk-style' evacuation

The knifeman who killed six people in a rampage at a Sydney shopping centre has been named as 40-year-old Joel Cauchi (left)

Pictured: Sydney knifeman, 40, who killed six people before being shot dead by brave policewoman

Iranian drones and missiles have arrived in Israel with explosions in the skies - as officials warn of a "significant response" to the massive attack.

Explosions in skies and sirens across Jerusalem amid Iranian attack - as Israel warns of 'significant response'

USS Bataan which is heading to the Eastern Mediterranean (main) and Joe Biden (r)

US sends amphibious warship and 2,500 Marines into the Eastern Mediterranean after Iran attacks Israel

US and UK forces are helping defend Israel from Iranian drones and missiles after a massive attack was launched.

British and American jets 'shoot down Iranian drones' as Rishi Sunak slams Iran for 'reckless' attack against Israel

President Biden is holding an emergency national security meeting as the US prepares its response to Iran's drone and missile attack on Israel.

President Biden holds high-stakes emergency meeting as Iran launches full-scale attack on Israel

Iron Dome Rocket Interceptions of Hamas Rockets- Southern Israel- Night Attack On Ashdod City

Israel closes airspace as it braces for Iranian drone attack

Iranian attack drones are 'en route to Israel', according to an Israeli Defence Force spokesperson.

Iran launches massive drone and missile attack on Israel as war in Middle East escalates

A mother who was stabbed while trying to defend her baby from the Sydney shopping centre knifeman has been pictured for the first time.

Pictured: Mother, 38, killed defending her baby from Sydney shopping centre massacre

Nearly 18,000 police officers were hired virtually by forces, prompting fears of another Wayne Couzens, LBC can reveal.

Nearly 18,000 police officers hired without face-to-face interviews by forces prompting fears of new Wayne Couzens

Lee Anderson's wife has been suspended by the Conservative party after being allegedly spotted campaigning for her husband's party Reform UK.

Lee Anderson's Tory councillor wife suspended from party after appearing to campaign for Reform in Ashfield

Election 2024 Decision Notes Alaska Wyoming

Biden wins Wyoming’s caucuses as eyes turn to Alaskan democrats

Hormuz incident

Iranian forces seize container ship near Strait of Hormuz

Russia Ukraine

Ukraine military chief warns of ‘significantly’ worsening battlefield situation

Obit Schappell Twins

Oldest living conjoined twins, Lori and George Schappell, die aged 62