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How Eric Clapton Ended Up Marrying His Best Friend’s Ex-Wife

Pattie Boyd Eric Clapton
Central Press, Getty Images

After years of delay, on March 27, 1979, Eric Clapton finally married Pattie Boyd – ex-wife of his friend George Harrison and inspiration for the songs “Something,” “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight.”

Clapton and Harrison became close friends in the ’60s, at which time Clapton became infatuated with Boyd, who continually rebuffed his advances. But Clapton remained deeply in love with her. Many of the songs on Derek and the Dominos‘ 1970 album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (especially the scorching title track) were thinly veiled autobiographical accounts of his feelings for her. Unfortunately, the album didn’t have the effect Clapton intended, and he fell into a three-year, heroin-induced isolation.

By 1974, right around the time Clapton was kicking heroin, Harrison and Boyd were splitting up and, with Harrison’s blessing, she ran into Clapton’s arms. Five years later, they tied the knot.

Two months into the marriage, the newlyweds held a reception for their friends in Clapton’s garden – the same place where Harrison wrote “Here Comes the Sun.” In attendance were Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. An impromptu jam session among the guests started, which was the closest there had been to a Beatles reunion until the Anthology project in the mid-’90s. John Lennon was not invited to the party due to his long-running immigration issues.

For all the two went through, however, the marriage didn’t last long. Clapton’s drinking problem and infidelity caused them to separate in 1984; they finally divorced in 1988. Pattie Boyd wrote about her marriages in the 2007 memoir Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me.

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