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Tag Archives PATTIE BOYD


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“I am extremely happy living in London and West Sussex with my property developer husband Rod Weston. But I feel very lucky, too, to have had the history I’ve had.
I took this picture of my first husband George Harrison when I went to India with The Beatles in 1966.
Being on a houseboat in Kashmir with floating gardens around us and Ravi Shankar teaching George to play sitar was wonderful. Then we went on to southern India.
George was lying back reflecting and didn’t know I was going to take the photo, but if I saw him looking beautiful I couldn’t resist photographing him.
I grew up in Kenya and loved how we used to find wild animals in our garden – I guess I later went on to wild men! This teddy bear was given to me by my grandmother when we were in Africa.
I brought him with me when I came to boarding school in England aged nine. I cried for the first few nights, as did the other girls – we hated being away from home.
But Teddy was my saviour, I told him all my secrets and dreams. He knows everything about me.

One afternoon Eric Clapton took me to his house in Surrey to listen to a song he’d written. He turned up the volume and played me the most powerful, moving song I had ever heard. It was Layla, about a man who falls hopelessly in love with a woman who loves him but is unavailable. Eventually the song got the better of me – I could resist him no longer and he became my second husband. I treasure this original artwork from the album because of its association with that special song he wrote about me.

I used to have two cats, and when they died I was so sad. I decided that I must have another animal and preferably one that is very low maintenance. So I got three alpacas, which sit in a field and eat grass all day long. They’re frightfully boring, but they look amusing. And then we got Freddie our Irish Terrier, who’s now four. He’s great fun and couldn’t be more charming and polite – he’s so friendly with everyone.

This antique music box has always meant so much to me because it was a Christmas present from Eric one year and was addressed to me, ‘From your darling songbird.’ When the lid opens, a little blackbird turns around and chirps the most beautiful sounds. He does it again, and then a gold mesh opens up and he goes back into his nest and the lid closes. It’s Swiss and made in the 1930s, and I’ve always thought it the most beautiful object. When I was modelling I started to think that I actually hated being in front of the camera and that the guys behind the camera were having far more fun and had more control of everything. I decided that’s what I wanted to do, so I watched many photographers and learned from them. I also started collecting cameras like this lovely old Rolleiflex that I bought in 1975.  I have since been on a photography course and I love shooting flowers and landscapes, wherever I travel.

Pattie’s next photography exhibition starts at Aalders Gallery in La Garde Freinet, southern France, on 18 June.



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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.