George Harrison Asked Pattie Boyd for a Divorce After Ditching Her on the Way to a Party

George Harrison and Pattie Boyd married in 1966 and remained together until their 1977 divorce. Long before their marriage was officially over, however, the couple recognized that the fissures in their relationship were widening into irreconcilable problems. At a New Year’s Eve party in 1974, surrounded by their friends, Harrison told Boyd that they should get a divorce. 

George Harrison and Pattie Boyd stand in front of a tree and wear hats. She bits his finger.
George Harrison | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

George Harrison and Pattie Boyd married in 1966

Harrison asked Boyd to marry him on the first day they met, but his official proposal came on Christmas in 1965.

“We were just motoring along, listening to the radio when suddenly he very calmly told me he loved me and wanted us to get married,” Boyd said, per the book Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual And Musical Journey Of George Harrison by Joshua M. Greene. “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.”

Harrison asked The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein if it was alright for the couple to marry. He gave them permission to wed in January. Three weeks later, Harrison and Boyd married at a registry office in England.

He told her that they should get divorced in the new year

In the 1970s, the couple’s marriage hit choppy waters. According to Boyd, they hardly spoke, and Harrison was increasingly cold to her. She began having an affair with Eric Clapton, and he had one with Ringo Starr’s wife, Maureen Starkey. Still, they attended the same social events.

At the end of 1973, Boyd made her way to a New Year’s Eve party hosted by Starr. She had planned to go with Harrison, but he left her behind when she forgot something upstairs. Though they were going to the same event, she had to take a separate car.

“I got into my car and drove toward Ringo’s, but there was a thick fog around Ascot and so much traffic that no one could see a thing and we hardly moved,” she wrote in the book Wonderful Tonight. “Suddenly all the cars stopped because it was midnight and everyone got out of their cars to wish each other a happy new year — complete strangers were hugging one another.” 

The cheeriness of the night immediately dissipated when Boyd got to the party.

“When I finally arrived George said, ‘Let’s have a divorce this year,'” she wrote. “On our wedding anniversary, January 21, 1974, I wrote in my diary: ‘Wedding anniversary. Joke!'” 

George Harrison and Pattie Boyd reconciled after their divorce

Boyd and Harrison divorced in 1977, three years after the party. Afterward, Boyd went on to marry Clapton and Harrison married Olivia Harrison. While their marriage did not end well, Harrison and Boyd reconciled after he wrote her a note that read, “E+P God Bless Us All, love from G.”

“George’s note was like a forgiveness,” she said, per the Daily Mail. “It meant a lot to me. I didn’t feel great about leaving him and it showed me he was happy. It was as if the hurt had finally been accepted and healed.”

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