It was love at first sight for George Harrison and his first wife, Pattie Boyd. The Beatle asked the 19-year-old actor and model to marry him the first day they met. However, to tie the knot a couple of years later, they needed the permission of The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein.
Brian Epstein chaperoned George Harrison and Pattie Boyd’s first date
In 1964, George met Boyd on the set of The Beatles’ first feature film, A Hard Day’s Night. That first day they met, George asked Boyd to marry him.
“George, with velvet-brown eyes and dark chestnut hair, was the best-looking man I had ever seen,” Boyd said according to Far Out Magazine. “At a break for lunch, I found myself sitting next to him. Being close to him was electrifying.”
In Here Comes The Sun: The Spiritual And Musical Journey Of George Harrison, Joshua M. Greene wrote, “She asked George for his autograph, and at a loss for any other way to communicate his feelings, he marked little hearts under his name.”
After filming her first scene, George turned to her and said, “Will you marry me?” She laughed, unable to decipher whether George was kidding or not. What made her special?
When Boyd didn’t respond, George continued, “Well, if you won’t marry me, will you have dinner with me tonight?” Boyd was dating photographer Eric Swayne, so she declined George’s offer. However, she didn’t like being with Swayne and left him.
During her next scene in A Hard Day’s Night, she told George. He asked her out again. This time she said yes.
They went to the Garrick Club in Covent Garden that night, chaperoned by Epstein. Although, Boyd wasn’t upset. “I didn’t resent his [Brian Epstein’s] presence on our first date—he was good company and seemed to know everything about wine, food, and London restaurants,” Boyd said.
“And perhaps if George and I, two very young, very shy people, had been on our own in such a grown-up restaurant, it would have been too intense.”
George needed Epstein’s permission to marry Boyd
Greene wrote that George’s “initial infatuation was adolescent—he claimed Pattie reminded him of his favorite film star, Brigitte Bardot—but he quickly discovered that in this vivacious young woman he had found a compatible partner.”
Following that first date in 1964, Boyd played an active role in her boyfriend’s life. “They attended Allen Ginsberg’s thirty-ninth birthday party and made a hasty retreat when the beat poet greeted them in the nude. They went clubbing with the Moody Blues, attended premieres of films such as Alfie with Michael Caine, and smiled when friends would refer to ‘George-and-Pattie’ instead of ‘George,’ as though they were a single entity.”
George proposed on Christmas day 1965 while the pair drove to a party at Epstein’s home. “We were just motoring along,” Boyd recalled (according to Greene), “listening to the radio when suddenly he very calmly told me he loved me and wanted us to get married.
“I think I just said yes or some such nonsense. But believe me, inside I was doing cartwheels. We really were very much in love.”
George jumped out of the car and went in “to consult” with Epstein. Then, 10 minutes later, he returned and said, “It’s all right. Brian has said we can get married in January. Off we go.”
George and Boyd married three weeks later and honeymooned in Barbados.
Epstein didn’t want a big fuss with the wedding
George and Boyd married at a registry office in Surrey on Jan. 21, 1966. The couple’s families were in attendance. Fellow Beatle Paul McCartney and Epstein were also there to show their support.
In her memoir, Wonderful Tonight, Boyd wrote that she didn’t want a wedding at a registry office, but Epstein was also behind that decision. He didn’t want to make the affair a big deal.
“Not the most glamorous place, it was not the wedding I had dreamt of – I would have loved to be married in church, but Brian didn’t want a big fuss,” she wrote. “They all trusted him so implicitly that when he said it should be a quiet register office wedding George agreed. He also said it had to be secret – if the press found out, it would be chaotic.”
Epstein was very present in George and Boyd’s early relationship. However his influence eventually dwindled.