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She met George Harrison on the set of A Hard Day’s Night – she played a schoolgirl – and they married when she was 21. They moved into Friar Park, a gothic pile in Hampshire where the Beatles came to record, friends drove from London to stay and she threw herself into decorating, cooking and entertaining. She was, she says, blissfully in love but often lonely: wives and girlfriends were not allowed on tour and Harrison was frequently absent. After the Beatles had discovered the Maharishi Yogi and they all went to India to learn meditation, Harrison returned gripped by eastern mysticism. “He chanted a lot,” she recalls, “it’s difficult to talk to someone who’s chanting.”
He had also discovered that he was attractive to women: “He was famous, good-looking, had tonnes of money and flash cars – what a combo. Girls were offering themselves everywhere and he loved it. To come home to old wifey must have been a bit dull.”
Does she think all men would be like that if they could? “Yes I do,” she says firmly. What constrains them? She shrugs: “Society, women, family?”

Eric Clapton had been a frequent visitor to Friar Park, laying siege to Boyd and, famously, playing a guitar “duel” with Harrison in the kitchen: she was the putative prize. “It was John Hurt [the actor] who described it as a duel,” she says, “and he was so on the button. I sensed it but I hadn’t formulated it.”

She was attracted to Clapton, by then a rock deity – the legend “Clapton is God” was spray-painted on city walls – but determined to stay in her marriage. Her parents had split up when she was 10, her stepfather was a cruel and unusual man who tyrannised the family and left her mother for another woman: “As a child I always thought I would do anything to avoid divorce.”
By the time she left Harrison – “He didn’t want us to be together, it was a life of rejection” – Clapton had made good on his threat to take heroin if he couldn’t have her. It would be four years before they got together.

Propped on an easel beside the window of Boyd’s flat is a rather beautiful black and white photograph of John Lennon. Did she take it? “No, I bought it.” Wasn’t he the most interesting of the four? “He was, yes, he was. He was quite volatile, you never knew what he would say next. He was a pretty sexy guy actually.” Did they have a fling? “No!” she exclaims. I explain I’d seen it suggested somewhere in a newspaper article. “How cheeky,” she says comfortably. Later, reading her autobiography published in 2007, I find another reference to the rumoured liaison. True or not, I don’t think she minds the idea.
Boyd and Clapton married in 1979: “I was madly passionate about him,” she says. “We lived at Hurtwood Edge [Clapton’s home for the past 50 years], I was in my 30s and ready to have babies; I used to wander round the house thinking, this will be the baby’s room, the nanny can sleep here.” But it was not to be: despite visits to a series of doctors and several rounds of IVF, the longed-for baby never arrived.
Clapton, meanwhile, had replaced heroin with alcohol and was drinking heroically. Boyd joined him on tour where he and the band would have girls to their rooms after the show. Cruellest of all, two of his extra-marital relationships produced babies: a daughter Ruth and two years later a son, Conor, who would die, aged four, in a fall from the window of his mother’s New York apartment. Boyd and Clapton divorced in 1988.
Asked once who was the great love of her life, Boyd nominated Harrison: “I think he always loved me … Eric loves himself. She admits now: “In both my marriages I had neglected myself, and got lost in a big cloud of fame, I got lost in their lives.”
When the music stopped Boyd found herself with a legacy – cardboard boxes full of photographs which she exhibits and sells as prints from her online gallery. They are the archive of an era: here is an angelic George lying in bed in an Indian ashram, Eric in a woodshed leaning on an axe and looking Lawrentian in corduroy trousers, Paul and Linda McCartney at Boyd’s wedding to Eric, Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull at the Brixton Academy. They are candid and intimate: did anyone ever object? “No, not at all,” she says, surprised, “I would never show a photo where someone’s not looking good.”

The collection has been a useful earner for the girl who left school with three O levels and had no need to work while married to rich men. She has continued to take photographs – portraits of actors for their books and pictures from her travels. Does the contemporary work sell? “No one’s really interested,” she says without rancour.
Freddie needs a walk so we put on coats and set off for Holland Park where the trees are still leafless but there are daffodils and a hint of spring. Boyd has been with her partner, property developer Rod Weston, for 20 years – “we are old friends” – and they wed in 2015. They share the Kensington flat and a cottage in Sussex bought for her by Clapton. Why did they decide to marry? “We have lots of nieces and nephews between us,” she says, “we wanted to put everything in order so there wouldn’t be any tears.” We walk on a few paces: “It’s funny,” she says, “Rod has been much nicer since we married and I am happier and less selfish. I didn’t anticipate that.”
She remained friends with Harrison until his death from cancer in 2001 and has stayed in touch with Clapton, many years sober and married with three more children. Last year she accompanied him to the launch of a documentary about him, A Life in 12 Bars, in which she features, naturally. “He rang me and said, ‘It’s a bit raw Pattie, I hope you’ll be OK.’ I said, ‘I’ll be fine Eric. I’m a grown-up now.”

George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Me: An Evening with Pattie Boyd will be held at Sydney’s Four Seasons Hotel on May 15. Boyd’s work will be shown at the Blender Gallery in Paddington from May 5 to June 2 as part of the Head On Photo Festival.


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Before becaming the Beatles Press office, Derek Taylor was a columnist of the Daily Express.
Taylor describes him as “a very talkative man, with as much interest in expressing himself as anyone else and maybe more than most”. But he’d always been a bit of a clown – there was the time in a hotel when he offered his foot, rather than hand.

One day i went to see Brian Epstein, Derek recalls, becasue i wanted to publish on the newspaper a weekly article wrote by one of the Beatles personally.  I tought George could have been the right one.
And i told epestein : “ he doesn’t really ha sto write, i will instead of him, we just will have some talking about whatever, and i will write the article. The weird idea went on and successfully.
With The Beatles’ profile in the ascendant, Taylor’s editors floated the idea of a column supposedly authored by a Beatle, to be ghostwritten by Taylor. George Harrison was chosen, and was initially given approval of Taylor’s copy. However, the first installment didn’t go quite as well as planned.
And with Taylor’s proddings, George talks about his childhood in a decent, “upper-working-class” Liverpool family. There were the usual privations

“It was cold in those times, cold. We only had one fire and we had to warm up the the beds with a bottle of hot water”. But his only real complaints were about school, which he hated (“awful … That’s when the darkness came in”). He left early, with no qualifications, his musical talents unnoticed by teachers. But he’d met Paul McCartney on the school bus and, by the time he was 17, the group they had formed was taking off.
What happened next, the years of the Beatles, is a story George more or less omits to tell. One minute he’s playing gigs with Paul, John and Stuart Sutcliffe in Hoylake; the next it’s 1969, the group has broken up. I play a little guitar, write a few tunes, make a few movies, but none of that’s really me,” George Harrison once said. “The real me is something else.” He preached piety and simple pleasures, yet he lived in a 120-room mansion and collected ultra high-end cars.
“I am not really Beatle George. Beatle George is like a suit or shirt that I once wore on occasion, and until the end of my life people may see that shirt and mistake it for me.”
“My Sweet Lord” “I thought a lot about whether to do ‘My Sweet Lord’ or not, because I would be committing myself publicly (to my beliefs) and I anticipated that a lot of people might get weird about it. Many people fear the words ‘Lord’ and ‘God.’  makes them angry for some reason.
When beatles plit up Phil Spector went to see him  “’Y’know, you ought to consider making an album.’ Spector recalls, and he said, ‘I have a few ditties’ for you to hear.’ It was endless! He literally had hundreds of songs — and each one was better than the rest. He had all this emotion built up when it released to me.”


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Released three weeks before the Beatles’ monolithic White Album in November 1968, Wonderwall Music marked a number of “firsts” in the world of Beatledom: It was the first solo album by a member of the band, as well as the inaugural LP to be issued on the Apple record label.

For his part, George had conducted several of the recording sessions for the soundtrack in the heart of India, where he had access to an array of exotic sounds and instruments. Directed by Massot, Wonderwall was unabashedly an art film with high-minded storytelling pretensions. The movie traces the life and work of an introverted scientist named Oscar Collins (played by Jack MacGowran), who becomes obsessed with his neighbors, especially the aptly named Penny Lane (Jane Birkin), a delectable model. The “wonderwall” of the film’s title refers to a shaft of light that streams through a hole in the wall that separates their apartments, illuminating Penny while she poses during a photo session. As time passes, Oscar’s obsession begins to overwhelm him, and soon he drills even more holes in order to observe Penny’s every move.

George understood implicitly that the film’s success depended upon a deftly constructed soundtrack that captured the nuances of Oscar’s runaway mounting obsession. At EMI’s Bombay facility, George recorded a series of ragas for the Wonderwall Music soundtrack, while also preparing the instrumental track for a new composition — destined to be the B-side of the Beatles’ “Lady Madonna” single — entitled “The Inner Light.”

As Massot later recalled during an interview with Spencer Leigh, “I asked George at the opening of the Beatles’ boutique if he would like to do the music for Wonderwall. I told him that it was a silent film and his music would provide the emotion for the characters. Quincy Jones told me that it was the greatest soundtrack he had heard, but the movie was too far out for some audiences. It did well in London, though.”

While Massot’s Wonderwall had difficulty finding an audience, Harrison’s Wonderwall Music established new inroads for World Music as a rapidly evolving genre. As Mojo’s Michael Simmons observed, Harrison’s LP was a “groundbreaking blend of Bombay and London.” Working alongside the likes of John Coltrane and Yehudi Menuhin, the Quiet Beatle had succeeded in transforming authentic Indian sounds into commercial success.

As The White Album dominated the global LP charts into the winter months of 1969, Wonderwall Music succeeded in cracking the American Top 40, a remarkable feat for a genre that was all but invisible to Western audiences only a few scant years earlier. Having successfully imported Indian music and philosophy to the West, George proved that the Beatles were world-breakers in more ways than the fans watching The Ed Sullivan Show on a fabled Sunday night back in February 1964 could even possibly have imagined.



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“Whenever you say ‘Beatles’ – that’s the magic word,” said Springfield-based filmmaker and super-Beatle fan Robert Bartel. He would know. His 1999 documentary A Beatle in Benton, Illinois – which details a single fortnight visit to the southern Illinois town in 1963 by 20-year-old George Harrison in order to see his married sister – is not only a consistent seller nationwide but has bizarrely managed to win Bartel a best documentary “Oscar” statuette 19 years after the film’s initial release (a 240-minute, two-DVD version was released in 2016).

Harrison and his brother, Peter, arrived in Benton on Sept. 17, 1963. The Beatles were already superstars in England and across Europe but were still unknown in the United States. (“I Want to Hold Your Hand” would be released stateside and go straight to number one on the Billboard charts in January of 1964.) “Ringo was supposed to come with them but he backed out because he wanted to go with Paul to Paris,” said Bartel, matter-of-factly. “John was in Spain having his, uh, thing with [Beatles manager] Brian Epstein.”
George’s sister, Louise, had settled in Benton after marrying a Scotsman named Gordon Caldwell who, after stints in the Arctic Circle and in Peru, had found work in Franklin County as an engineer with Freeman Coal (now Freeman Energy), headquartered in Springfield. George, just 20 at the time, was nicknamed “that skinny little kid from England” by locals. Already wealthy from the success of the Fab Four in Europe, Harrison did his part to stimulate the southern Illinois economy during his visit, having arrived with scads of cash. He reportedly bought giant stacks of records from a Benton record store (including the original version of his future solo hit “I’ve Got My Mind Set on You”) as well as purchasing a Rickenbacker guitar (rare in the UK) from Red Fenton’s music store in Mt. Vernon. Harrison was also introduced to Gerald “Gabe” McCarty, leader and bass player of local rock ’n’ roll combo The Four Vests, and sat in with the band on some Chuck Berry tunes during a concert at the Benton VFW hall on Sept. 28, 1963. Soon after, The Four Vests learned the entire Please Please Me LP (still unreleased in America) from the copy Louise had received in the mail from her mother, making them the first Beatles cover band. On Sept. 28, Louise, George and Peter went to West Frankfort, where they persuaded the on-air DJ to make WFRX the first radio station in the United States to spin a Beatles record (“From Me To You”).

Bartel’s documentary began as an act of preservation. In 1994, he was working as a licensed private detective when a case took him to Benton by chance. “My wife, Janice, and I had seen Louise Harrison at BeatleFest in ’93 and ’94, talking about her time living in Benton,” Bartel said. “While I was working that case in town I looked up Gordon Caldwell in the phone directory for 1964, got the address and went over there.” Bartel was shocked to see a backhoe sitting against the back of the house. “I thought, what are they doing? They can’t tear this house down, the Beatle people will go nuts!” Bartel canvassed the neighborhood and learned that the Mines and Minerals department of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources had plans to use the space for a parking lot. “No way!” Bartel said, reliving his reaction. “I’m going to lay down in front of this backhoe – civil disobedience, whatever – they’re not going to tear down this house, I’ve got to get ahold of Louise and she’s going to fly in and save the day.”
Soon, Bartel rallied District 12 Senator Jim Ray, the Illinois governor’s office, Congressman Glenn Poshard and the mayor of Benton to his cause and halted the demolition plans. The house now operates as The Hard Day’s Night Bed and Breakfast. The publicity led to Danny Malkovich, who owned the Benton Evening News, contacting Bartel with the story of how he and his brother, future famed actor John Malkovich, met George and Peter Harrison on the Benton town square. The oddball story of the two future celebrities’ chance 1963 meeting soon went out on the Associated Press wire, resulting in what Bartel described as six months of international phone calls attempting to verify the anecdote.
As for the documentary itself, Bartel – who, along with his wife, has accumulated enough Beatles memorabilia over the years to run a museum out of his home – says the production was largely done on the spot. “I interviewed all the principal people and then went to the principal locations,” he said. “I was preserving Illinois history – and as a Beatle fan I wasn’t trying to ignore the fact that one of the most famous icons in the world came to a little hillbilly town in southern Illinois.” In 1999, the film won documentary awards at both the Berkeley film festival and the Brooklyn Film Institute

The 50th anniversary version of A Beatle in Benton, Illinois was released on DVD in 2016, which attracted the attention of a company called Red Carpet Concierge International, which holds an annual “regional Oscar” ceremony (not affiliated with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) on Feb. 24 in Chicago. Bartel, who had been nominated in the “best writer” category for a different project, was blindsided when his name was called to receive the award for best documentary. “It was at the JC Martini Club,” he recalled. “There were all kinds of Frenchies and Italians there, everybody’s kissin’ everybody and talking in foreign languages and I hear my name get called for best documentary. I almost lost my mind!”
Bartel’s involvement in a dangerous multi-car highway accident on the way back to Springfield after the ceremony – in the aftermath of which he and his “Oscar” statuette traveled together in an ambulance – did little to dampen his sense of pride and accomplishment. “It’s an Illinois story, it’s a Beatle story, it’s historical, and I connected the dots,” he said.



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Olivia has agreed to support the creation of a memorial garden in Henley.

Mayor Kellie Hinton wrote to Olivia Harrison to see if she would back the idea and her husband’s charity confirmed she was in favour.
The town council will now work with Mrs Harrison and the Material World Foundation to find a suitable location.

Plans for a memorial in the town have been mooted for years. Mrs Harrison was against plans for a statue to the former Beatle, who lived at Friar Park.
Councillor Hinton said: “We were only comfortable doing something if Olivia was going to support us.
“We know from previous discussions that she did not want anything near the house. We looked at locations in Mill and Marsh Meadows, which are tranquil and by the river. There were other areas we looked at which could be suitable.”

The Mayor met with representatives of the foundation in October, when they discussed the possibility of a garden.
Cllr Hinton said: “We had a 45-minute meeting and went over some of the possible locations, which they could look at in their own time. On the same day we had a message saying they wanted to do it.
“From there it was something the Henley in Bloom committee was going to look at. There has been nothing decided on funding or location.“I would love to see it happen. One of the things we don’t celebrate enough is the fact that George and Olivia chose Henley as their home.”
The idea of a memorial was first suggested in 2001 following Harrison’s death.
In January 2013, Mrs Harrison wrote to the Henley Standard saying: “A more appropriate way of honouring his memory in Henley would be to support a community project.”
This led to the Music on the Meadows festival. The Harrisons moved to Friar Park in the Seventies.



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Recorded between May and October 1970, George’s ‘What Is Life’ became the second single to be released from All Things Must Pass. It entered the US Hot 100 on 27 February 1971 and went on to become George’s second Top 10 hit in America.
In the UK, ‘What Is Life’ was issued as the B-side of ‘My Sweet Lord’. As a single it topped the Swiss charts, and did really well in the Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany, Austria and Norway. The song was written quickly by George and he thought originally that Billy Preston would record it for the solo album that he was producing for the keyboard player’s Apple album.

George had started work on All things Must Pass but they were running out of tracks at the famous studio, because it only had a four-track machine, so he went to Trident at St Anne’s Court in London’s Soho where they had an 8-track recorder. According to engineer Ken Scott, “Working with George was always a joy. When he did backing vocals, it was all George. It was tedious, but it was so much fun. We would double it and bounce those down, and double some more and bounce those, getting the mix as we went along.”
It’s a song that went through several different phases until George was happy with it. An early mix had additional instruments that didn’t quite fit what George wanted. According to George, “It had parts for piccolo trumpet and oboe that weren’t used originally because I didn’t like the feel. It sounds a bit of a novelty now”.

The track features many of those who graced the All Things Must Pass sessions, including all of Derek and the Dominos – Clapton, Whitlock, Radle and Gordon, along with Pete Ham, Tom Evans and Joey Molland of Badfinger. Additional instrumentation comes from Jim Price on trumpet and Bobby Keys on saxophone, who were in the throws of becoming the Rolling Stones horn section, playing on Sticky Fingers and as part of the band’s touring party.
In America, the single came in a picture sleeve that shows George playing guitar while standing in a window of his home, Friar Park. The photo was taken by Barry Feinstein, whose Camouflage Productions partner, Tom Wilkes, wanted it to be part of an elaborate poster intended as an insert in the album package, but that design was rejected by George in favour of a simpler photo of him, which became the final poster. In 1972, Olivia Newton-John recorded “What Is Life”, and it reached the UK top 20 in March 1972, peaking at No.16.