As a mate and muse to rock 'n' roll royalty, Pattie Boyd captivated the most desirable men of her time. Despite a successful modeling career, she never appreciated her own beauty.
"I was maybe pretty, but beautiful is something else," Boyd said.
Her recently published best-selling memoir, "Wonderful Tonight," chronicles Boyd's life and loves — including the one that began in March 1964, when she was cast in the Beatles movie "A Hard Day's Night."
Her speaking role consisted of one word: "Prisoners." When she met the Beatles on set, they introduced themselves to her, as though she didn't know who they were. It was during this charming encounter that she found herself drawn to George Harrison, who was then 21 years old.
"He was incredibly good looking. Very, very attractive. But also he was … he seemed quite shy. And me being rather shy, I sort of felt … an affinity with him," Boyd said.
They clicked on their first date, a meeting chaperoned by Beatles manager Brian Epstein. It wasn't long before Harrison proposed.
"One day he said, 'I think we should really get married. I'm going to go and speak to Brian,'" Boyd said. "And then he came back, gave me a big kiss and said, 'Brian says we can get married in January.'"
Boyd settled into cozy domesticity, but Harrison went on with the Beatles to make the greatest music of his career, including "Something," a song he told Boyd he'd written for her.
"I thought it was an incredibly beautiful song," Boyd said.
It turned out Harrison wasn't the only one who thought Boyd was something else. She had attracted the attentions of another man, Harrison's close friend Eric Clapton.
"One day I got a little letter, beautifully written. And singing my praises, and saying that, you know, this person really loved me. And I had no idea who it was from," Boyd said. "It was just signed 'E.'. So I … I showed it to George, and said, 'Aha, look, I've got a great fan here.'"
That evening Clapton showed up to ask whether she had received the letter. Soon, they were spending a lot of time together.
"I hardly ever saw George," Boyd said. "He seemed to be in the office or in the studio all the time. So I was pretty much left on my own. I suppose it was exciting because, you know, quite frankly, he was outrageous. And me … silly me … being sort of swayed by flattery."
Clapton let her know she was beautiful and desirable, sentiments Boyd said she had been missing.
"It's pathetic, isn't it, to think that, you know, one relies on that," she said.
Then, one tumultuous day in 1970, Boyd came to know the true depth of Clapton's feelings. He told her he wanted to play some music for her, so she went to his home. He popped a tape in his cassette machine, and that was the first time she heard the song "Layla."
"It was absolutely, staggeringly beautiful and powerful. And he played it a couple of more times, and I sort of realized it was about me," Boyd said. "I panicked slightly, because I thought, 'I think it's getting a bit too hot for me. A bit too hot to handle.'"
That night, she and Harrison attended a party at Clapton's manager's house.
"I remember being out in the garden with Eric at one point," Boyd said. "And then George appeared from nowhere and said to Eric, 'What are you doing? What's happening?' And then that's when Eric said, 'I'm in love with your wife.'"
Boyd felt she was being forced into making a decision that would stay with her for the rest of her life.