Pattie Boyd Said George Harrison’s Early Recordings Were ‘Much Better’ Than the Finished Song

Over the course of George Harrison and Pattie Boyd’s marriage, she heard his process of writing a song from start to finish. She explained that he was constantly playing music around the home, and she listened to his early-in-the-process recordings. While she was a fan of his work at all stages, Boyd said that she actually preferred the early tape recordings to the finished products. 

Pattie Boyd and George Harrison wear sunglasses and hold hands against a white background.
Pattie Boyd and George Harrison | Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Pattie Boyd said George Harrison was constantly playing a song

When Boyd and Harrison were home together, she said he was constantly playing music.

“His guitars were always left around the house and in any spare moment he would pick one up and play,” she wrote in the book Wonderful Tonight. “When John, Paul, Ringo, or any other musician appeared — as they often did — they all played. But George would never play a complete song. He played what was in his head, or he would be working on new chords or a new song, I never knew which, and weeks later you would hear a song on tape.” 

She said that he threw himself deeply into his work, but his single-minded attention to it didn’t bother her. 

“Sometimes I would start to talk and he’d be so deep in thought about the lyrics or the melody he was writing that he wouldn’t answer,” she explained. “We’d be in the same room but he wasn’t really with me: he was in his head. Most of the time I didn’t mind. I’d think, Oh, good, he’s writing a new song — he was always happiest when he was being creative.”

She liked George Harrison’s tape recordings better than the final song

Boyd explained that Harrison recorded his songs because he didn’t know how to formally write music. 

“He composed the melody first, but as he was not formally trained, he couldn’t write the music down; he would play it and play it so it was fixed in his mind, then record it,” she wrote.

Harrison would show Boyd his new songs whenever he put them on tape. She said that she tended to like these early versions better than the more polished final product. 

“He composed all over the world, wherever he happened to be, and he would play me a tape recording of things he had written — he didn’t sing them to me with the guitar — and I always thought how much better it sounded like that than the finished product.”

The couple divorced in 1977

After just over a decade of marriage, Boyd and Harrison officially divorced in 1977. Their marriage had functionally been over since 1974, however. Boyd began an affair with Eric Clapton and Harrison was with Ringo Starr’s wife, Maureen. 

After their divorce, Boyd went on to marry Clapton. They divorced in 1989; in 2015, she married her longtime partner Rod Weston. Harrison married Olivia Harrison in 1978, and they remained together until his death in 2001.

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