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In the 1970s, the tight friendship between Eric Clapton and George Harrison hit a snag when Clapton started pursuing Harrison’s wife. Harrison and his wife, Pattie Boyd, had been growing apart, and she appreciated the attention Clapton paid her. Eventually, Boyd and Harrison divorced, and she married Clapton. He believed Harrison hadn’t fought to save his marriage.

A black and white picture of George Harrison and Eric Clapton holding guitars.
George Harrison and Eric Clapton | Dave Hogan/Getty Images

Eric Clapton made it clear that he was interested in George Harrison’s wife

Boyd met Clapton through Harrison. The two were close friends and often played together

“He and George had become close friends; they played, wrote music, and recorded together,” she wrote in the book Wonderful Tonight. “At that time his girlfriend was a model called Charlotte, but I was aware that he found me attractive — and I enjoyed the attention he paid me.”

Harrison had been behaving coldly toward Boyd, so she appreciated the warmth of Clapton’s attention.

“It was hard not to be flattered when I caught him staring at me or when he chose to sit beside me or complimented me on what I was wearing or the food I had made, or when he said things he knew would make me laugh or engaged me in conversation,” she wrote. “Those were all things that George no longer did.”

They eventually began an affair, and Clapton went so far as to tell Harrison he was in love with Boyd.

Eric Clapton said George Harrison put up no fight when he was pursuing Pattie Boyd

Though they didn’t finalize their divorce until 1977, Boyd and Harrison’s marriage came to a de facto end in 1974. Boyd explained that after the split, Clapton didn’t want her to take any money from Harrison. She believed that this was both a point of pride and a sign of a guilty conscience. Harrison once gave her money because she had very little of her own, and Clapton told her to destroy the check.

“Eric told me to tear it up — an instruction I ignored,” she wrote. “It was a matter of pride to him — and I guess he must have felt a bit guilty for having taken me from George, who had always been such a good friend.”

Clapton didn’t think Harrison had worked very hard to protect his marriage, though. Boyd agreed.

“He always said that George put up no fight, and he was right,” she explained. “With hindsight I think George might have behaved because it was his friend, someone he respected and loved, who was in love with his wife. He was such a selfless, generous person that he let it happen.”

The three remained friends despite their romantic entanglements

The relationship dynamics between the three were messy, but they remained friendly. One Christmas, Harrison even joined Clapton and Boyd for dinner. He hadn’t been invited, but nobody was upset to see him.


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“That Christmas we had turkey, and as we were sitting down to it at Hurtwood Edge, George burst in, uninvited,” she wrote. “He was horrified to see me eating meat and berated me — but then we laughed and he had some Christmas pudding with us, and some wine, and it wasn’t awkward at all. I couldn’t believe how friendly he and Eric were toward each other.” 

Boyd said that in the years after her divorce from Harrison, she knew she could turn to him whenever she needed help. She thought of him as an older brother figure.