In a hug on their wedding day on January 21, 1966, Pattie and George look adorably young.
Every day you meet a true icon of the sixties. But if anyone is, it’s Pattie Boyd: supermodel, muse to musicians, photographed by stars like David Bailey and Terence Donovan. Then there’s the icing on this 1960s fantasy cake: marrying George Harrison, the most handsome of Beatles, though the “Paulites” may disagree.
Pattie is chatting with me via Zoom from the West London flat she shares with her third husband, Rod Weston, when they don’t live in their main house in Sussex. At an incredible age of 78, she looks as stylish as ever, those famously lustrous blonde locks falling over her shoulders, trendy tortoiseshell glasses framing her blue eyes, and wearing a flawless-looking striped shirt.
Her new book, My Life In Pictures, is a visual treasure trove featuring over 300 photographs and artwork with Pattie sharing intimate access to her personal archive for the first time. Must have been a labor of love deciding which images to include?
“Oh, it was,” he laughs. “I had so many pictures in my own portfolio from my modeling days. Plus, the book publisher found so many more pictures that I don’t even remember posing for. Then there are the pictures I’ve taken of myself over the years. I kept sending it more and more and more”.
The anthology includes many images of close friends and contemporaries such as Twiggy, David Bailey, Mick Jagger and Billy Preston, her second husband, guitar hero Eric Clapton, and of course The Beatles and George. The latter brings back fond memories of the man she has called “the love of my life.” One image in particular stirs up fond memories.
“We’re in the Himalayas and it’s George lying on his back after spending the afternoon meditating. It must have been late 1967,” he says. “It’s such a beautiful image. He looks so relaxed, calm and peaceful. It’s probably the last time I’ve seen him looking like that in a long time. We were just about to head back to London for business meetings – Apple Records had just been launched.” .
“From now on, The Beatles would be businessmen as well as musicians, and they would have to engage in a world they knew very little about. It was something that was foreign to George.”
patty today. Her book is a treasure trove of images from her archive.
Pattie met George in 1964 when she was cast as one of the schoolgirls in the first Beatles movie, A Hard Day’s Night.
“My friends and I loved the music of The Beatles, and I was very excited when I realized what a job it was,” he recalls. “But I never thought I’d end up marrying one of them. I sat next to George at lunch and he was so sweet and handsome and funny as he chatted.
“At the end of the day, he asked me to go out with him that night, but I had a boyfriend I was going out with that night, so I told him I couldn’t, although I did invite George to join us, which, surprisingly, he didn’t. I wasn’t interested in doing it. And that would have been if director Dick Lester hadn’t called us to shoot another day about 10 days later. By then, I had split up with my boyfriend. On set, I went straight to George. He asked me How was my boyfriend, I told him I don’t have one anymore and he asked me out that night and that was it!
The book also contains journal entries. The one from March 6, 1964 reads: “George Harrison asked me out!” Less than two years later, at just 21 years old, he wrote on January 21, 1966: “Getting married!!” – the journal entry surrounded by scribbled love hearts.
Surely, it doesn’t get much better than being 20 years old in 1964 Swinging London, a beautiful successful model and newly in love with the most famous band in the world. The magnificent guitarist?
Was Pattie aware at the time that she was living the dream? “I was having a great time, but I didn’t always realize I was in the middle of what is now considered a pivotal moment in history,” she replies.
English fashion designer Ossie Clark with models Judy Guy Johnson and Patti Boyd
“It’s only when you look back that you realize things like that. I didn’t look at my friends and constantly think, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re so famous!’ It’s only when I’m doing things like putting this book together or talking to people like you that I realize how amazing it was to live in that moment. Everything was so new and exciting, and everything seemed possible. At that moment, I thought it would last forever.” . It wasn’t, of course.
The Swinging Sixties gave way to the troubled Seventies, and Pattie’s marriage was one of the casualties. In 1974, her marriage to Harrison ended largely due to his infidelity. She began a relationship with Eric Clapton whom she would later marry. However, she and the former Beatle managed to remain friends.
“We stayed close until the end of his life,” she says. “A few months before she passed away in 2001, she came to see me in Sussex. I thought she wanted to see where she lived. She brought me some gifts, played music for me and we had tea together. It was so lovely.
“When he left, I realized that I might never see him again. I knew he was sick and, thinking about it, it was as if he had come to say goodbye.”
Harrison would die at just 58 years old in November of that year, his family around him, from a very aggressive form of cancer.
Pattie continues: “We were so young when we met and it was like we grew up together. We learned about music, culture and faith, not just in the UK but all over the world. It’s wonderful to have grown up with George, he was so lovely and so open to everything.
While her book is primarily an anthology of images, her diary entries and accompanying reminiscences are incredibly vivid.
With her second husband, Eric Clapton, in 1975. Pattie inspired her song Layla – and George’s Something
Another entry reads: “Does your silence mean you’re gone?” It’s a telegram from a clearly heartbroken Eric Clapton. The Slowhand star wrote Layla and Wonderful Tonight in his honor.
Harrison, of course, wrote “Something” for Pattie, the song that has been described as one of the greatest love songs of all time. It also inspired several other Harrison compositions, including I Need You, If I Needed Someone, Love You To, and For You Blue.
“I’m not lucky?” she smiles. “It’s an absolute honor to have inspired such iconic love songs. If I hear one of them in a store or restaurant or whatever, it gives me an incredibly warm feeling.”
Speaking of shops, he recalls: “I was at an optician’s in Notting Hill the other day and was pondering what color frames I should get for my new glasses when this tall handsome young man approached me. ‘Excuse me. ‘ he said. ‘I just wanted introduce myself. I’m Paul McCartney’s grandson.’ I couldn’t believe it. To think that Paul has a grown grandson, and so handsome, too. It just blew me away. Where have all the years gone?”
Pattie Boyd’s My Life In Pictures is out now
Where actually. Looking back at her extraordinary life, does Patie have any regrets?
“I thought naturally, when I grew up and got married, I would have children,” he says.
“Sadly, it didn’t happen to me. Once you accept that fact, it takes a while to get a handle on reality and bite your lip.
“Once you get over that, you realize you have great friends and life is fabulous. I think we can’t force nature. Whatever happens in life, it’s meant to happen. So, I have no big regrets, not Just accept what comes into your life and deal with it appropriately.
“I hate anger and negativity, they can make you sick. I take life as it comes. I digest it and then do something about it. Or I don’t. I’m pretty proactive and like to do things right away – but I’m learning to hold back and not be so spontaneous.
“Early on I decided that there should never be a dull moment in life. If you feel bored, just change your mind.”
- Pattie Boyd’s My Life In Pictures (Reel Art Press, £39.95) is out now. For free P&P in the UK, visit expressbookshop.com or call 020 3176 3832
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