HER SWINGIN' '60s CREDENTIALS: An adorable buck-toothed British bird who modeled and had a cute bit-part in A Hard Day's Night, Pattie married one of the decade's most eligible bachelors Beatle George Harrison and became the muse for some of rock's most famous songs.
CATEGORIES OF SWINGIN' CHICK: Girlfriend/Wife, Model, and Movie Star
BIRTH: She was born in '44, making her about nineteen when A Hard Day's Night was filming in '64. Her exotic birthplace: Hampstead, England. Her moniker: We often see alternate spellings of her first name -- Patti -- but nobody has ever given us an explanation or defined which spelling is correct.
IMPACT ON THE '60s: Pattie Boyd was in a movie. A big movie. Beatles big. But her role was tiny: In A Hard Day's Night, her part was defined as "Girl on train." And her film career was limited to a single word. While dining on the train ten minutes into A Hard Day's Night, she was told the lads are really prisoners; she replied, "Prisoners?," emoted confusion, and skedaddled off. Five minutes later she sits on a crate, all coy and flustered, as the boys serenade her with "I Should Have Known Better" in between their card game. While her impact on film history was small, her impact on Beatle history was huge. When she and George Harrison first met on the set of A Hard Day's Night, the story goes that he was signing autographs for fans and drawing a kiss under each signature, but for hers he drew seven kisses and started pestering her for a date, which she turned down because she already had a boyfriend. However, Beatles weren't to be denied in those heady days. A year later she and George were living together, married soon after that when she was only 21. Pattie went from model to muse: Inspired by their love, George wrote some of his best songs to/about/for her, among them "I Need You," "For You Blue," and the classic "Something," which no less an expert than Frank Sinatra once called "the greatest love song in the last fifty years." Still inspired by her in the '70s, George wrote "So Sad" as he and Pattie were splitting up.
CAREER IN THE '60s: She's always had more going for her than the Beatle marriage that catalyzed her international fame, even as far back as her pre-George teens. Before, during, and after A Hard Day's Night, Pattie was a working model. In the early and mid-'60s she did print ads and appeared with Twiggy in Mary Quant's Paris shows. She also went to the U.S. as an ambassador of "Cool Brittania." Back in London in the late '60s, Pattie and her sisters briefly ran a fashion boutique called Juniper, named after the Donovan song "Jennifer Juniper" (that song was inspired by Pattie's sister Jenny, who had spent time with Donovan during the Beatles' famous trip to India in '68). Unfortunately, Pattie's modeling career never really advanced to superstardom. Published sources say that George might've even discouraged her, hoping she'd be a stay-at-home Northern wife like Maureen Cox was for Ringo.
CAREER OUTSIDE THE '60s: Pattie enjoyed a brief resurrection of her modeling career in '74. But she never became a major fashion force, even though she looked more and more attractive as the years went by. Attempts at a career were stalled by husband Eric Clapton, because, like George, he wanted a Northern wife with no career. However, she is still considered part of "rock royalty" because she's stayed close to Eric, George, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and she still attends many of the best music and fashion functions. In February, 2005, she was shown on a San Francisco news program at a local gallery opening, where her photos of the Beatle years were being shown. According to the newscast, Pattie (who looked great) now spends her time traveling and taking pictures.
TALENT: Her modeling career was mostly print ads in London papers and magazines, plus a stint as the Smith'sCrisps girl promoting Smith's potato chips in ads and at shows. At least one acquaintance has said she speaks with a slight lisp.
HER '60s LOOK: Early in her career she looked blonde and innocent. Her beautiful blue eyes were what most people, including George Harrison, noticed first. Supposedly he used to brag about Pattie to his friends and the other Beatles because he thought she looked a lot like Swingin' Legend Brigitte Bardot. So in tune was she with the times and the styles, in '65 she wrote a regular column for 16 Magazine called "Pattie's Letter from London." In it she would give fashion advice such as how to have bangs like hers (long on the sides, short in the front, she said). As she matured she at times sported deep tans, then darkened hair, eventually evolving into a more glamorous, more sophisticated look worthy of the modeling superstar she never quite became. As expected for a swingin' girl in swingin' London, her clothes were mod, gear, fab, all those Carnaby Street adjectives that put the fun in functional. The dress she wore in A Hard Day's Night, by the way, was a Mary Quant mini. Mary later outfitted George and Pattie with his-and-hers fur coats for their January '66 wedding.
LIFESTYLE: Before she met George, Pattie was in London's trendy set, which included Jean Shrimpton and David Bailey. Then in '64 she landed a Beatle and got a couple of scenes in their movie, which proves she was definitely hangin' in the right circles. Once she agreed to go out with George, they fell in love instantly and were looking for houses within a month. His family approved, according to George's father Harry: "When George got together with Pattie, Mrs. Harrison and I were delighted. Of course, to the rest of the world it might have been 'Beatle Marries Model,' but to those that really knew them it was clear that this was a genuine modern-day love story." Their romance was secret until they went to Ireland in the spring of '64, and the press invaded the castle where they were staying. Pattie was also present at many Beatle recording sessions, and was the only Beatle wife in attendance for the recording of "A Day In The Life" (she is seen talking to Marianne Faithfull in the promo clip for the song). Her magnetism extended past her husband, with John Lennon affectionately calling her "Battie" and, according to some bios, supposedly trying but failing to start an affair with her (other sources say he just flirted innocently with her at the Magical Mystery Tour party). It's also said that Paul McCartney decided to put "Wild Honey Pie" on The White Album because Pattie liked it. Pattie was in the house in '69 when the police, led by notorious publicity-hound Sgt. Pilcher, busted them for drugs (hash) and were fined 250 pounds. Here's her description of the scene after the police invaded their house:
"As we went downstairs George saw Lord Snowdon and said, 'I'm going to talk to him, maybe he can stop this bust,' and I was casually looking around, when suddenly I spotted my younger sister Paula puffing on a joint which she then proceeded to offer Princess Margaret ... I couldn't believe it, it was the early evening, of the same day that we'd just been busted and there was my sister trying to hand Princess Margaret a joint!"
Pattie and George were also said to have been at the infamous "Stones Party" that brought notoriety to Marianne Faithfull. The police were said to have known about the drugs involved at the party, including LSD and heroin, but because of Beatle lawyer David Jacobs and Beatle manager Brian Epstein, both of whom had a major impact on the police, Pattie and George were allowed to leave without being arrested. By the time Pattie and George were arrested for drugs, both Jacobs and Epstein were dead. Pattie divorced George Harrison in '77 and married another rock star, Eric Clapton, in '79. Clapton said "Pattie was just trying to get George's attention, get him jealous, and so she used me. The problem was that I soon fell madly in love with her. He'd been into ... meditation for so long and yet couldn't keep his wife. All she wanted was for him to say 'I love you,' and all he was doing was meditating." Suffering from unrequited love while Pattie was still married to George, Clapton wrote "Layla" about her. George said about the divorce: "There comes a time when splitting is for the best. It's no big deal. We've separated many times. We were getting on each other's nerves, and what with the pace of my work, splitting was the easiest thing to do. In this life, there is no time to lose in an uncomfortable situation." In '77 she divorced George Harrison and took up with Clapton. They married in '79. Just as George had once done, Clapton wrote songs for her, including "Wonderful Tonight" and "Old Love." Not that her life with Clapton was idyllic. In June '99 the following item ran in the L.A. Times:
Clapton "acknowledged that his state as a 'full-blown, practicing alcoholic' had a devastating effect on his marriage to Pattie Boyd during the 1980s. 'Everyone used to walk around me on eggshells, they didn't know if I was going to be angry or whatever. When I'd come back from the pub I could come back happy or I could come back and smash the place up.' Clapton added: 'There were times when I just took sex with my wife by force and thought that was my entitlement.'"
EXTRAS: When she married George at the Esher Register Office in Surrey, Paul was the only Beatle to attend, he and Beatles' manager Brian Epstein were "best men" ... Brian threw a party for the couple that night, among the guests were Paul and Jane Asher, George Martin, and Cynthia Lennon ... George and Pattie honeymooned in Barbados ... Pattie's sister Jenny was married to Mick Fleetwood, in '67 they lived in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district ... Pattie, George and some friends went to visit Jennie that year in the Haight, making George the only Beatle to visit the area during the Summer of Love ... Pattie is credited with being the person who got the Beatles interested in India and the Maharishi in early '68, though it's not clear if that was such a good thing based on the fiasco that resulted when the group, plus friends like actress Mia Farrow and Beach Boy Mike Love, made a pilgrimage to the Maharishi's India ashram, as chronicled in John's song on The White Album, "Sexy Sadie," in which he accused the Maharishi ("Sadie") to be a sham, more interested in the Beatles' women and money than in their spiritual growth: John sings, "Sexy Sadie, you made a fool of everyone" ... driver George and passenger Pattie were in a major one-car wreck in '72 when he was speeding and ran off the road, she was knocked unconscious and broke several ribs ... she once said: "They were good times, with so many laughs. I don't regret a thing. I still try on an old miniskirt once in a while. I just cannot believe we really wore them that short" ... some of the research on this page came from the very helpful Elle, who runs "She Loves You," a luvly site devoted to the Beatles' girls ... if you would like additional news about Pattie Boyd or any other Beatle girlfriend/wife, e-mail Elle directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pattie's got a long bio and photos in the book Swingin' Chicks of the'60s, published by Cedco Publishing: http://www.cedco.com.
Click on the linkage in the Table o' Contents on the left to select another Swingin' Chick of the '60s, baby.